Everything You Need for a Happy Haunted Halloween

Decor – Stop by the nearest dollar store and pick up some fake spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, monster makeup, and any other terrifying trinkets. Set a creepy scene with a few ghostly sheets, skeletons, and some Pinterest inspiration. DIY projects, such as paper bats, floating candles, and ghost figures, will make a petrifying personal touch.  

Costume – Whether you dress up like your favorite celebrity or pull out all the stops at Party City, find a cool costume and dress up. This day is allocated for being silly and not taking life so seriously. Maybe dressing up like a bag of jelly beans is the way to go.  

Movies – Snuggle up on the couch with a few friends and binge watch some creepy or comical classics, such as the Halloween series, CasperHocus Pocus, the Halloweentown series, and more. Half of the Halloween fun is clinging on to loved ones, your heart beating outside of your chest, and shrieking in fear (or laughter).  

Candy – Halloween wouldn’t be dentists’ favorite holiday if it wasn’t for the candy. Be sure to stock up on a couple of bags for you, friends, and the trick-or-treaters. Look to Pinterest once more for ideas to make your treats come to life, such as Pizza Skulls or Mummy Dogs.  

Fun Attitude – Last on the list is a fun and open attitude. As stated earlier, Halloween is a day for kids and adults alike to become someone else – to dream. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy time with your friends and family without judgment. As long as you treat yourself and others with respect, you will have a great time. Take off the mask of the lackluster laborer and unveil the fun-loving princess, cowboy, or jelly bean you are inside

Written by Ashley

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Thoughts from England

My sister, Nicole, had the opportunity to become a missionary in Preston, England right after she graduated from DBU a little over two years ago. While she was over there, she eventually fell in love with a British lad named Adam, and they got engaged on March 2nd of this year, which also happened to be Nicole’s 24th birthday. So, my family and I were gifted the opportunity to go over to England to celebrate my sister’s marriage, and my parents thought, “Well, if we’re going to Preston, we may as well spend some extra time touring England.” Fortunately, the date of the wedding aligned very nicely with my fall break, so I was able to join my parents on their British excursions around the country and take some notes along the way.

Note: Keep in mind that this is all from the perspective of an American that has never left North America and doesn’t travel that much in general. Everything written here is solely from what I remember from the trip. I don’t want this to just be a history lesson about stuff in England, but rather a detailing of what I experienced while in the country. Also, I’m not a history teacher, so just Google this stuff if you want real detail.

1-2 Oct. 2019

One of the most exhausting days of my life, even though it was technically two days. My dad, my aunt, and I pulled out of our driveway in Denton, Texas at 4:15 pm CST, and we got to the DFW airport around an hour later. From there, my aunt dropped me and my dad off, and we did all the normal, uneventful things that happen at airports. We had Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and I realized I wouldn’t have Chick-Fil-A for another two weeks (a crushing revelation). Our 8 and a half hour flight from Dallas to London left at around 7:40 pm CST, and the plane served us dinner at around 11 pm CST (eating pasta at 560 miles an hour while 39,000 feet in the air was a huge item checked off of my bucket list, thank you American Airlines). Our plane landed in London at 4:15 am CST, by which time my body was thoroughly confused, as it was 10:15 in London with the sun beaming on my stupid, tired face. We got to chill in the airport at Heathrow for about four hours until we boarded our plane to Manchester. The hour flight from London to Manchester was literally the shortest hour of my life, and we left the Manchester airport in a rental car at 4:45 pm LT (10:45 am CST), only to get stuck in ridiculous rush hour traffic for about two hours. We made it to our house in Preston (Hollowforth House in Woodplumpton) close to 7:15 pm LT and almost immediately turned around to have dinner with Adam and many of his friends and family at Guy’s Thatched Lodge and Tavern. I set my mouth on fire with some Lasagne al Forno and had a good time chatting with the boys.

3 Oct. 2019

Wedding Day Eve. I got to see the stunning venue we would be using for the reception, which was the Inn at Whitewell, several miles outside of Preston. The property itself is actually owned by the Queen, so you could basically say I’m related to royalty. We did a good chunk of preparation at the inn, then moved over to Crossgate Church back in Preston where the ceremony would be held and did some setting up there. Then, we celebrated with some dinner at a pub called The Continental. The soup and chicken I had was pretty good, but then came the peanut butter and Belgian white chocolate cheesecake. Here’s the deal: I will die before I have to live another 21 years of life without having this cheesecake again. It weighs about 100 pounds when it’s inside your body because it’s so rich; it could weigh 100 tons for all I care. Just incredible.

4 Oct. 2019

Wedding Day! Honestly, the whole day was a blur, but it was such a sweet celebration. Some of my extended family came in right before the ceremony began, and I got to chat quite a bit with them through the reception, which is always nice. There was some incredible worship incorporated in the ceremony courtesy of the Crossgate Worship Team, and everything went about as smoothly as it could have. I look like a pack of flimsy spaghetti noodles blowing in the wind when I dance, but there was dancing indeed. I am now a proud brother of two married sisters.

5 Oct. 2019

To start the day, we went to an inn called Derby Arms for some lunch with the bride, groom, and some other friends and family. Afterward, my parents and I officially said our goodbyes to everyone, and we ventured east. Our first stop was at the ruins of Priory Church in the Bolton Abbey. This is the location of a large cathedral that was mostly burned down as a result of King Henry VIII’s establishment of the Church of England. A smaller section of the church was somehow preserved, and there are still weekly services held even 850 years after the church’s conception. After some time on the road, we arrived in York for the night. We had dinner at a pub called Hole in the Wall, and I had the Chicken Tikki Masala (don’t know what that means but it was delicious and spicy).

6 Oct. 2019

York! I had beans with my breakfast (beanfast), and we met up with a tour guide in the Museum Gardens right in the middle of town. He gave a really engaging overview of the history of York before showing us the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, the Roman wall, and other smaller landmarks in the town. St. Mary’s Abbey was similar to Priory Church in both its size and circumstance; however, much less of St. Mary’s Abbey remained in comparison to Priory, as there are just a few walls and frames to observe.

The Roman wall doesn’t seem like much until you understand the context of the city. The Romans established the city of York in 71 AD and built a massive wall around 300 AD that surrounds what is now the very center of the city. The top third of the wall was added later in the 1300s during the Medieval period, but there is still a wall in the city that has been standing for around 1,700 years. How do you even begin to wrap your mind around that? The short answer is you don’t (at least I don’t). That one idiot that loves goofing with his boys at Whataburger and local DFW parks (me) walked along the same wall that Roman soldiers walked along in the 4th century, not even 300 years after Christ himself walked the Earth. So yeah, good luck trying to process that one.

After our guide finished his tour, we took a tour of our own into the York Minster, an absolute unit of a cathedral. There’s so much that could be said about the minster, but I’ll just say this: I’m blown away at how a building can be so overwhelming in its history and size while simultaneously maintaining such a peaceful aura. You would think that the colossal structure would lend itself to a more chaotic atmosphere, but somehow there’s an incredibly soothing presence throughout the cathedral.

7 Oct. 2019

We began the day climbing the hills of the Peak District near Castleton, and we were welcomed with quite the view. The wind was blowing at about 40 mph, but overlooking the hills of England was worth the endurance. After grabbing lunch at Three Roofs Cafe in Castleton, we made a short trip over to the church in Tideswell. While the site is not as imposing as the York Minster, it’s still crazy to think that people have been actively worshipping in the church since the 14th century. It’s also funny to me how aspects of the modern church merge together with more ancient sites like Tideswell. “We’ve been an active congregation for over 600 years; anyway, follow us on Twitter to keep up with our announcements.” After Tideswell, we made a lengthy trek down to Warwick, and I tried a popular English dish called Fish and Chips for the first time in England. I’m not a huge fan, but I also regularly consume and enjoy Taco Bell, so take that opinion with a grain of salt.

8 Oct. 2019

Warwick Castle! This castle began as a wooden fort in 1068 and was established by William the Conqueror. Fun fact: I am a very distant relative to William the Conqueror. I have no idea how, but my family has done some research, and our lineage is indeed connected to his. I guess what I’m saying is I should own and run Warwick Castle. Originally, the castle was owned by the Earls of Warwick, serving as a symbol of power and for good reason. The castle was rebuilt with stone in the 12th century, and other towers were formed to add to its intimidating presence. While there’s a very tough and domineering exterior, you can find an incredibly glamorous and polished interior when you enter the castle. There’s a very distinct medieval aesthetic in its dining room, living space, chapel, and other rooms throughout the castle. I always wonder if the families living in the castle 300 years ago thought about who would be walking through their castle in the future. I feel like they would be pretty disappointed to see a bunch of goofy Americans ogling at all their shiny stuff. Anyway, we then saw some gorgeous flowers in a garden outside the castle, got rained on super hard, and ventured south from there.

9 Oct. 2019

We took a trip to Blenheim Palace, about 20 minutes from Oxford. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, it was the birthplace of Winston Churchill. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, go read about World War II or something. In 1704, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, played a key role in a decisive military victory for England against the French in the Battle of Blenheim. As a gift, the Queen awarded Churchill with the land, as well as £240,000, which would eventually become the behemoth that is Blenheim Palace. Presently, the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough reside in the Palace. We looked through all the major rooms inside the palace, which included a neat exhibition specifically dedicated to Churchill. What I found more impressive was the land surrounding it. There were some beautifully crafted gardens right outside the palace, and there was so much more to explore beyond that. The square footage of this place is insane. We stopped in the rose garden, walked alongside the river, and took a gander at an actual waterfall on the property. Imagine just having a waterfall outside your house (and also your house is literally a palace). From there, we scurried down to London, and good Lord, driving in London is bonker billies.

10 Oct. 2019

London Tour! We had a guide walk us around some pretty monumental landmarks in downtown London, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, and Trafalgar Square. A bonus aspect of the tour was the Extinction Rebellion, which was a climate change protest that had been going on in London for about a week. This mainly took place in Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city, but protesters were walking and camping out all over the city. Buckingham Palace is where the Queen of England resides, so obviously, we couldn’t get too close, but it was quite a site to behold. They have a flag on the roof of the palace that indicates whether the Queen is in the palace or not, and she happened to be there while we were, which was neat. God save the Queen, you know what I mean? Parliament Square is in a cool part of town with significant structures surrounding all of its borders. There is the Treasury to the north, Westminster Abbey to the South, Elizabeth Tower (commonly mistaken as Big Ben when Big Ben really refers to the bell inside the tower) to the east, and the Supreme Court building to the west. There are also statues of individuals deemed significant to British history here, such as Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and even Abraham Lincoln. Trafalgar Square would have seemed much bigger if it wasn’t packed to the brim with protesters, but it was still really neat. There is a crazy tall monument of King Charles right in the middle of the square that is apparently equidistant from Oxford and Cambridge (don’t know if that’s true but it’s a neat architectural detail).

We saw and did so much more in the city that I don’t have time to write about here, but I will say that London is such a fascinating place. One thing our tour guide noted about the city that I think is true is that London has such a strange mixture of traditional and progressive characteristics that make it really unique. The history is so incredibly rich in just about every part of town, but there are so many modern features that can be seen in just about every other contemporary city in the world. It sometimes feels like I could be walking in downtown Dallas, which is 45 minutes from where I grew up, but then I’m reminded of the history that spans over hundreds of years. There’s a feeling of familiarity merged with antiquity, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.

11 Oct. 2019

Our last full day in England was a full day indeed. We started off the day at St. Paul’s cathedral, and this may have been my favorite part of the entire trip (besides my sister getting married, duh). The grandness that I experienced in the York Minster was also present in St. Paul’s, but the amount of detail in every single aspect of the cathedral is just astounding. Not a single square inch of space is wasted here. The original site of the church was in 604 AD, but the cathedral has burned down a couple times since then. The current structure was completed in the 17th century and miraculously survived German bombings in World War II. Fittingly, there are many references to the Second World War inside the cathedral, including a chapel dedicated specifically to British and American soldiers who died in the war. Additionally, there are some breathtaking views from the cathedral that overlook the city of London that you can see if you’re insane enough to walk up over 500 stairs. I am indeed insane enough, and the view was stunning. It had just rained for a bit, so the clouds looked absolutely incredible. Yep, I think St. Paul’s Cathedral was my favorite thing in England and is pretty much at the top of my list of recommendations if you ever happen to visit England.

There was so much more that we saw and did in England that I couldn’t include here. I wasn’t too interested in making this journal 20 pages long, but these were certainly the highlights. I will conclude with this: go visit places that you haven’t been to before. It doesn’t have to be England. It doesn’t even have to be outside your own state. There are just so many cool things in this world that we don’t know about, and it’s so interesting to experience them for yourself instead of listening to a dumb American like me tell you about them.

Written by Ryan

Work Like a Dog Day

According to the website, National Today, Work like a Dog Day is “inspired by the strong work ethic of canines, especially service dogs, [but] is meant to honor people who put in that extra bit of hard work.” It is essentially a cooler version of Labor Day inspired by our canine companions! There are a few ways to celebrate this glorious holiday listed below:

Work Like a Dog

One of the best ways to honor Work Like a Dog Day is, well, by working like a dog. Every day, our dogs are happy and eager to serve us; try emulating that. Arrive early to work and stay late. Take initiative on projects and assignments. Ask your boss if you can offer extra help around the office and have a positive attitude.

Give a Dog a Bone

Whether a child, companion, coworker, or canine, we all know someone who works harder than most; reward them for all that they do. Dogs are encouraged to behave and complete tasks through praise, treats, and love. Similarly, we humans need validation and appreciation to motivate our work behavior. For instance, treat your boss to a free lunch, do a chore for a sibling, offer to take a shift a coworker doesn’t want. Even a simple thank-you card and a heartfelt message from you would suffice.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie 

In celebration of Work Like a Dog Day, you could take the day off! After a long day of work, dogs need plenty of rest so they can continue serving their owners. In the same way, humans must rest and reset, so we can function properly and efficiently. Take the day to snooze on the couch with a furry friend nearby, or stop by an animal shelter and play with puppies. Do things that will free your mind of work worries for the entire evening. Let sleeping dogs lie and laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy an image of my dog Sweeti, a ten-month-old Swedish-Danish Farmdog!sweeti

Written by Ashley

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Recognizing the Work 24-Hour Period Holiday: Labor Day

It is that time of year again: the first Monday in the month of September. “What do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Sound familiar? Every year, for the past fifteen or so years, this has been the conversation that has plagued my family. Despite prolonged deliberations, we arrive at the same solution. The van is quickly loaded and off to Ellen’s Amusement we go! Alright, let me backup just a smidge. This chosen day of fun falls on Labor Day! Honestly, I have never known or cared why most people get this day off from school/work until I did a bit of digging. (Googling like crazy!) Putting my family tradition aside, here are a few things I discovered about Labor Day.

What does Labor Day even celebrate? Great question, but don’t overthink it. Honestly, it is as simple as it sounds. Labor Day is the celebration and recognition of Americans in the workforce.

The first Monday of September is designated as Labor Day. Yes, this is another one of those holidays that switches dates from year to year. Ironically, Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York. However, the holiday was not nationally recognized until President Grover Cleveland signed off on it in 1894. For you math people, that was nearly twelve years later.

Peter McGuire of the American Federation of Labor and Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union are no doubt tied closely to the holiday’s formation. However, there is still an open debate about which, if either, was the first to propose this holiday. Essentially, the origins of the holiday are chalked up to the contributions of group efforts made by the CLU and the AFL.

Hopefully, after reading this blog through entirely, you have learned a thing or five about Labor Day. As a final parting thought, remember to not wear white after Labor Day, a phrase everyone has probably already heard and may never know why. (I still do not understand why!)

Written by Jodan

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Happy Independence Day!

As the days of summer seem to get hotter and longer, I can’t help but feel excited when the 4th of July comes around. With fireworks, hot dogs, pool parties, and all the fun-in-the-sun you can imagine, it feels like the climax of summer. It’s the time when even banks are closed, families gather around the barbeque, and everyone seems to wind down with a glass of ice-cold lemonade. July 4th is a special holiday beloved by every American.

Most of us know July 4th, 1776 as the day America declared her independence from Britain. With that said, here are a few fun facts you might not know about one of America’s favorite days of the year.

  • To start, July 4th wasn’t deemed a federal holiday until 1870–about 100 years after America declared independence.
  • Americans consume about 155 million hot dogs on the 4th of July, and we spend about $167.5 million on watermelon.
  • Calvin Coolidge, America’s 30th president, was actually born on July 4th. Imagine sharing your birthday with your country!
  • America’s tradition of fireworks can be traced back to our first Independence Day in 1777 when we fired 13 cannons to represent the 13 colonies.
  • Last, but certainly not least, the Declaration of Independence was formally declared on July 2nd, which was the day John Adams believed to be “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Turns out, he was a couple of days off, but was nonetheless accurate in the day’s description! July 4th was the date that Congress approved the final text of the Declaration of Independence.

All fun facts aside, it is important for us to always remember those who fought before us. Our freedom to celebrate the 4th isn’t entirely free but is constantly paid for by our faithful, hard-working military. This 4th of July (or 2nd—whichever you choose), take a moment to shake a soldier’s hand and say thank you or whisper a prayer for those in the line of duty. It is because of them we get to enjoy our beloved holiday, and thanks to them, we are able to call America home.

Written by Camille (NEW: Click on author’s name for more information about him or her!)

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Memorial Day

It is finally summer time! You no longer have to worry about assignments, tests, or deadlines. Woohoo! A few days after summertime officially begins, your family plans a barbecue and swim party for Memorial Day. You are excited to see your friends and family, but you have some unanswered questions. What is this holiday’s meaning? Is it simply about gathering together on a summer day to relax and celebrate? Is it just a day that the mail does not run? Or, is it a day that has a much greater significance? If you read to the end of this blog, you will no longer have any questions about Memorial Day and its significance.

Everybody can probably recite a few facts about the Civil War that they learned in middle school; however, it was much more than just a few statistics to the people who lived through its trauma. Thousands of young men and a few women valiantly left their families to embark on a journey full of fear, pain, misery, and death. Although some made it out of the war, many were not as fortunate. Mothers and fathers wept over the deaths of their children, who sacrificed their lives for what they believed.

In a time of despair and grieving, Americans united and honored the young individuals who selflessly gave their lives in the Civil War. Throughout the nation, people paid their respects by placing flowers and other objects on the graves of those who died in the war. Because this was occurring in different places around the United States, the exact location where Memorial Day began is unknown. Despite the anonymity, the government declared Waterloo, New York, as the first official city where Memorial Day was recognized because of the festivities held there in honor of the people who perished.

Interestingly, this holiday was originally referred to as Decoration Day because many people would place different decorations on the soldiers’ graves to honor them. Regardless of the name, Memorial Day was designed to take a day out of the year to honor the men and women who perished fighting for what they believed in. Each town might have different traditions for celebrating the holiday, but every festivity boils down to honor and respect. Although this holiday started in honor of those who perished in the Civil War, it eventually became known as a celebration of life for all the people who died fighting in a war.

In 1971, Memorial Day was recognized as a national holiday when governmental offices close to recognize those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Throughout time, this holiday lost its true meaning. Many suggest it is due to the extended weekend. Perhaps it is because we have become desensitized to the true pain death causes. Whatever the case might be, it is something we can change. Fascinatingly, Congress asked that everything stop at three o’clock for only a minute on Memorial Day in remembrance of the true meaning of this holiday. In the midst of the barbecues and summer festivities, take a moment of silence with the rest of the nation on the last Monday in May to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I will take a moment of silence this Memorial Day. Will you?

John 15:13 states, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (New Living Translation). 

Written by Trisha (NEW: Click on author’s name to learn more about him or her!)

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