The Caravan Outside Campus

It is the dead of winter. Normally, I would be at home with my family recovering from the holidays, but not today. I am at school—or, more accurately, at work. My on-campus job has called me in to cover a shift, just for a day or two. I am more than happy to comply, and not just because I prefer to keep my job. Since I’m only going to be at school for two days, my parents have granted me control of one of the family cars, which is a rare treat that I fully intend to enjoy.

Like a true rebel, I am going to go off-campus and pick up a nice Chipotle burrito with the hour I have off for lunch. (So edgy, I know.) I hop in my dad’s little silver Accord, adjust the hedgehog ornament hanging from the rearview mirror, and back out of the parking lot, feeling like a real grown-up. As I coast to a stop at the edge of campus, I’m singing with the radio, and all is right with the world.

I look to my left, and I see a few cars heading in my direction. Being the overly-cautious driver I am, I decide to wait for them to pass, since there’s no one behind me to scold me with a blaring horn. It isn’t until it’s too late that I realize how slowly they’re driving and how many cars there are. They’re all in the right lane, hazard lights blinking out of sync with one another.

Baffled, I look up the street to determine the source of this slow-moving party, and one car, ominously long and black, stands out from all the rest. Red, white, and blue fabric flaps from the car’s roof. Suddenly, I remember the last time I attended a DBU baseball game, when the entire stadium dropped everything and paused to quietly stand at attention as, in the near distance, a trumpet played a long, sad song. I remember the one thing I constantly forget about the Dallas Baptist University campus:

Its next-door neighbor is the Dallas/Fort Worth National Cemetery.

I freeze. Breathing too loudly no longer feels appropriate. One by one, the cars in the caravan pass by, the passengers barely giving me and my hedgehog a passing glance.

Reality crashes down on me as I realize that someone in this caravan sacrificed everything for the freedom I was relishing just a few seconds ago. Without that person, I might not have the funding to attend school. I might not have my job, which is a work-study position. Without this person, I might not be able to take off at my leisure and go as I please. Without this sacrifice, I might not be able to choose from a plethora of restaurants just a few miles down the road. I might not have a car at my disposal. I might not even have a driver’s license. Without this person’s willing and selfless sacrifice, nothing I am doing at this moment, none of these little things I rarely stop to consider, would be guaranteed.

In a daze, I realize one of the cars is coming to a stop, and I see the driver kindly wave at me. I shake my head and gesture at them to keep going, and they acknowledge me with another wave. Part of me wonders why they would risk making the drivers behind them mad for stopping, but then I remember why they’re all here. That one person is not the only one who has given up everything for my comfort. Their friends and family do that every day. Even now, as they lay their friend and family member to rest, they care for strangers more than they care for themselves.

The last of the caravan is a pair of police motorcycles, red and blue lights glaring. They wave at me as if to thank me, and I wave back as I prepare to drive away. I can see them in my rearview mirror as I turn onto the street, disappearing around the bend. My focus goes back to the road, but now I’m praying instead of singing as I go.

Thank you, Lord, for the freedom I have in you. Thank you for the freedom you give to all who ask, and for the freedom you have blessed our country with. Thank you for the men and women who defend that freedom every day. Thank you for being with them, comforting them, and loving them. Thank you for giving them the strength to keep going when everything is falling apart, when they want nothing more than to wrest control from you. Thank you for this person’s life; whoever he or she is gave everything in love, just as you did when you sent your Son. Thank you for that courage and that sacrifice. Thank you for the friends and families, and their willingness to give up something so precious to them. Continue to be with those who are grieving today; you are the only one who can truly ease that pain. Help them appreciate the freedom you have offered every one of us, and help me never to forget that again.

Based on a true story

Written by Catherine

Image credit: Carole Sampeck, used with permission in honor and memory of Adrian Sampeck

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Letter to the Meandering Writer

Dear Meandering Writer,

Before we go any farther, please don’t be concerned that I had to Google a definition for the word “meander.” I promise I’m qualified for my job. Really, I am. You can’t judge me too much because I bet you don’t know how to define “meandering writer,” either. According to a conglomerate of online dictionaries, “to meander” basically means to take an unnecessarily indirect or aimless journey. In the world of writing, this is the author who loses his or her audience by going off on an irrelevant tangent or taking too long to get to a clear point. In my experience, meandering writers are the ones who have the best ideas and most well-conducted research, but simply lack the structure to tie everything together into a nice, neat, presentable package.

Some might argue that meandering isn’t really a big issue to worry about, but the reality is, a wandering paper fails to show the intelligence and understanding of a skilled student because it does not clearly communicate with the audience. Every once in a while, meandering does pay off—just ask Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Their proposed 25 essay project, known as the Federalist Papers, turned into 85 essays that took 6 months to complete. In the end, they eventually made their point: the Constitution of the United States is a document worthy of the full support of the states. If you enjoy being an American with free speech and a representative government, thank Hamilton and Madison for meandering around their topic, but unless you’re writing to define the direction of a new nation and establish a democracy, it’s probably best to stay on topic and to the point.

I know. That is easier said than done.

Here are a few things that may help prevent your essay from turning into a second edition of the Federalist Papers.

  1. Your paper is a tree, so avoid twigs. Every single point made within a paper either needs to support the thesis directly or directly support something that directly supports the thesis. (Is that as clear as mud?) In other words, your thesis is like the trunk of a tree. The limbs are your direct support because they connect immediately to the trunk. Branches are necessary secondary evidence for the direct support found in the limbs. Anything past the branches are flimsy twigs that barely link to the trunk. Chances are, these weak arguments can be pruned from your paper in exchange for a stronger, more straightforward essay.word tree
  2. Keep your thesis visible. The farther you get from the introduction, the harder it is to remember exactly what your thesis is claiming. This is especially true when you’re looking at a page count that extends into double digits. Write your thesis down on paper and refer back to it at every new paragraph and every time you get stuck. If you prefer to write your thesis after you’ve finished the rest of your paper (this is a great strategy!), go ahead and jot down a working thesis anyway. It never hurts to have a roadmap handy, even if you plan on changing your route.
  3. Don’t delete stray sentences; save them for later. Nothing is more painful than composing a beautiful sentence, paragraph, or page, only to realize it is not necessary for the paper. Unfortunately, this is a natural part of the writing process. Never keep something that distracts from the thesis of your paper, but don’t assume that just because something doesn’t fit in one paper that it might not fit in another. If you find yourself consistently writing and removing eloquent passages, the kind you wish you professor could actually see, create a document where you can save your meandering words for later. That way, none of your work is ever really in vain, and if you ever find yourself stuck for ideas or brilliant sentence structure, you’ll know where to start.

And of course, it goes without saying that you should always bring your paper to the Writing Center! We all know what it’s like to have more thoughts, sources, and ideas than space in an essay, and we’ve all struggled at one time or another to stick to a thesis. Nothing helps guide a meandering writer quite like a fellow student who has walked the same, winding path.

Written by Savanna

Image credits: Header image, Tree Outline (words added by author)

DIY Gifts to Wow Her on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, a time in early May, has been dedicated to celebrating the mommies, mothers, mamas, and moms across the nation for many years. Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, dedicated her life to honoring the great women who’ve endured much hardship for their children while continuing to be poised and graceful (History.com staff para.1). For the women whose love for their family is so unique, moms deserve a day dedicated to celebrating them in a spectacular way. Here are a few ideas for D.I.Y. gifts to wow any mom on Mother’s Day.

diy charm bracelet

First on the list of gnarly gizmos and gadgets is a D.I.Y charm bracelet. This simple yet elegant gift is gentle on the pockets, easy to make, and still very personal to that special lady. To make this charm bracelet, you will need a chain, jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and a few meaningful charms. You can add as many or as few as you’d like and still achieve a one-of-a-kind look that will make Mommy smile. This gift will also allow you two to grow and improve the gift over time, as the charms can be updated and multiplied with time. As she sports this sweet act of love around her wrist, she will always be reminded of your appreciation for her as will everyone else.

diy spa in a jar

Source

Help Mama soak away the stress of being a mom, amongst other things, with a D.I.Y Spa in a Jar and D.I.Y Scrubs. To create a scrub your mom will love, take a small container, some white or brown sugar and pair it honey, olive oil or coconut oil, and a few drops of an essential oil she likes. After using this delicious-smelling concoction, she will have skin to die for! To fashion a Spa in a Jar, simply grab a large mason jar and fill it with those D.I.Y scrubs, lip balm, a face mask, and any other helpful trinkets for relaxation. Next, decorate the jar with some of her favorite colors and a nice ribbon. She will definitely appreciate the lovely gesture from you and the reminder for her to treat herself.

cheeseburger sliders

Finally, go the classic route with a spectacular Mother’s Day themed meal. Rock your mother’s taste buds with some fabulous flap-jacks, sausage, and an omelet the size of your head. For the moms more inclined to heartier meals, home-made-bacon-and-cheese-burger sliders would be a great choice. If you’re more of a Pizza Roll microwaver, simply make some fresh lemonade and chocolate covered fruit for a mouth-watering reaction.  My mom will be receiving a Spa in a Jar as well as a tasty Mother’s Day meal. Whatever you decide to make, or try to make, your mom will love and welcome it.

Show her a little gratitude with these cute and easy D.I.Ys. Remember, there is no judgement if you go crazy with hearts in these D.I.Ys as long as you have fun in creating them and use them as tools to show just how much you love and cherish your mom, mommy, mama, and mother.

History.com Staff. ” Mother’s Day.” History.com, 2011.

Written by Ashley

Header image credit

Letter to the Graduating Senior

Dear Graduating Senior,

I’m writing you today to share some wisdom, but by “wisdom,” I really mean “thoughts” because, let’s face it, I, too, have yet to graduate and have no room to offer any sound advice for how to handle what’s to come. But, here I am anyways, so just hear me out.

I’ve spent the last three-and-a-half years of my life looking forward to graduation day. While I am still eager to float gracefully across the stage as Pomp and Circumstance loops for the fortieth time, I’m only now beginning to question just how ready I actually am. Am I ready to fly the coop, get a big girl job, and start making a life for myself? Yes, absolutely, one hundred percent. I’ve done my time, and I’m excited to start my journey, but am I ready? Can I function as a human being, on my own, without the comfort of knowing that I can come home to a secure campus with real people who face the same struggles as me? I mean, I don’t even know if “fly the coop” is a real expression, so I’ll leave that for you to decide.

All jokes aside, when I truly and honestly evaluate my preparedness to enter into the “real world,” I do feel as though I’ve been adequately equipped. The Lord has blessed me with an invaluable education, and, while four years seemed incredibly excessive and overwhelming as freshman, I’m beginning to realize now that I can never learn enough. Senioritis is real and distracting, and I’ve definitely missed out on learning some things by being impatient and trying to rush through these last two semesters. It’s hard to absorb new knowledge and information while being engrossed in fantasizing about the future and preparing to begin the next chapter of life; so, here is where the advice comes in:

Enjoy the time you have left.

Appreciate today and the opportunity you’ve had to attend a university, let alone make it successfully to the end of your senior year. When you’re old and decrepit, and you’re telling your grandchildren about your college experience, is your graduation day going to be the only experience worth telling them about? No, probably not. You’ll want to share about the people you met, the places you traveled to, and the memories that have lasted a life time. Enjoy a few more weeks of making those memories, and finish your studies out strong. After all, you haven’t received your diploma yet…

Take some time to reflect.

Believe it or not, a lot has changed in your life since the beginning of your freshman year, and now is the time to reflect on how much you’ve grown. Look through some pictures from the past few years and thank God for the people He’s put on your path. Thank Him for the good times and for the hard times, too, and thank Him for the lessons you’ve learned through the challenges He’s thrown your way. Consider taking your reflection a step forward and start a journal, detailing your time spent on campus. It’ll come in handy down the road.

Always seek learning opportunities.

There is a never ending amount of knowledge in the world, so make it a goal to learn often. Find things that interest you and pursue them. If you’re like me, you’ll apply to Grad school because, while you can’t wait to start your career, you realize that there is so much more you want to know before leaving. You can never find out all that there is to discover, but I believe that, by learning about the world around us, we learn more about the One who crafted it, and there is something really special in that.

Philippians 2:13 states, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Isn’t that amazing? No matter what we might be feeling or what the Lord calls us to do post-graduation, He is working for His good pleasure. While His plans for our lives don’t always align with what we desire for ourselves, we can rest in comfort and know that there must be something better in store that we can use to give Him glory. I mean, if what He’s doing within us is being done for His pleasure, can’t we assume that we, too, can find it pleasing as well?

According to the greatest philosopher to ever live, Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you chose.” This is true, and you’ll probably be hearing a lot of this soon because, hello, what graduation card doesn’t refer to Oh the Places You’ll Go these days? But while you have the power to decide where you want to go and what you want to do, I urge you to consult the Lord before making those decisions. Consider how you can use the brains in your head and the feet in your shoes to honor Him with the talents you use. I promise you won’t be let down.

Happy Graduation!

Written by Haley

Image credit

To Meme or Not to Meme

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t enjoy a good meme. No matter what age, nationality, or perspective on life you have, memes speak to everyone. Commonly, when you think of a meme, you think of a random picture with a caption that fits just perfectly. It’s one of the best forms of communication, in my opinion.

challenge accepted

Being the meme connoisseur that I am, I had challengers who thought that they could win in a meme war against me. To show my wits to these challengers, I wanted to know where the term “meme” came from. Originally, the term is a shortened version of the word “mimeme,” a concept coined by Richard Dawkins, an English evolutionary biologist, who proposed the idea

“[w]hat if ideas were like organisms … They begin from a single location—the brain—and spread outward, jumping from one vessel to another, battling for attention” (Scarbrough). Dawkins argues that all life relies on replication, or memory, which is why the term relates well to the internet sensations we know now. Internet memes are an imitation of memories and pictorially depict reactions, which is why memes go viral. In Scarborough’s article, Dawkins says that some ideas become more successful than others, just like certain memes get more publicity than others. Especially in our social-media society, there is always someone posting, tweeting, blogging, or participating in whatever form of sharing s/he accesses. It’s human nature to react to it whether it be in a positive or negative way.

maybe

A meme is usually funny, so, if the comment was funny and you don’t want to necessarily reply back in a “rude” way because the words you type don’t always portray what you really want them to, a meme is a picture that can inflict an emotion/memory better. They can jog your mind to remind you how you were feeling when you first saw it. I don’t want to be arrogant, but my meme repertoire is pretty strong. I have a reaction for almost everything. It started as a way to respond to people when I didn’t feel like typing, and as it became more popular in social media, people unknowingly fed my budding habit which leads me to the self-proclaimed title of “meme queen.”

Social media has definitely influenced the meme era. In fact, the millennium generation has made a calendar that shows which meme was used most during each month. Once a meme goes viral, you’ll notice it being used for everything: celebrities making faces at an award show, a Vine snapshot, or a great catch by a football player that seems too good to be true. It can be lavish like someone adding seasoning to food in the fanciest way possible, or a reference about any exaggerated post, or as simple as a little girl smiling awkwardly resulting in memes referencing uncomfortable, awkward situations. Anything can be coined as a meme at any time, no matter how simple or mainstream you think it is. One does not simply meme and be great. It takes practice and dedication for a “meming” career path and to reach a level of extraordinary frivolousness.

kanye approves

Scarbrough, Jenna. “What is the origin of the word ‘meme’?”. Mental Floss. 07 March 2005. Mentalfloss.com/article/61843/what-origin-word-meme. Accessed “05 April 2017”.

Written by Celeste

Image credits: Preparing and Fast TypingChallenge AcceptedSmart ThinkerMeme CalendarKanye Approves