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

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Better or Worse?

Imagine this: you arrive home and drag yourself through the door after a long day at work during the hot summer. After eating and doing some chores around the house, you realize it is almost 7 pm. How is that possible? You just got home! Oh, well. You mosey on over to the couch, and you pull out your phone to check social media. All you see are photos and videos of your friends living their best lives at the beach, on vacations in other countries, or exercising. After being on social media for a few minutes, you start feeling unhappy about your life and glance away from the screen. You look around and see a plain apartment with only a few decorations on the wall. You were content a few minutes ago, so what changed? Here is the answer: comparison, the thief of all joy.

Personally, I have been struggling with comparing myself to other people without even realizing that I was doing it. After evaluating my feelings and talking with some of my loved ones, I saw the truth. I am absolutely blessed, but I was bogging myself down with all of the comparisons. What if I was taller, skinnier, richer, faster, prettier, etc.? Would any of these things make me happier? Well, the simple answer is no. This is my discovery after experiencing years of comparison and envy.

1. Realize where your source of joy lies. I guess the better way to say this is: realize who your source of joy is.

You always hear about joy spreading throughout the world, but where does this joy come from? Peter answers this question by stating in 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (New International Version). In this short passage, Peter points out that we are filled with joy because of our faith. We do not find joy in our circumstances. Instead, our joy is anchored in Christ alone. Although we might experience hard times, our joy would never waver, unless we are placing our joy in the hands of something or someone apart from Christ. If we place our happiness in the material world, then we might be upset if we do not have the nicest things. However, if we place our joy in Christ’s hands, then we will be joyful and content with life no matter our circumstances.

2. Remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

When I was younger, one of my teachers talked with me about this saying: the grass is always greener on the other side. She pointed out that this is never the case. If we have this mentality, then we will always be comparing our lives to others and living in envy. She told me something that I will never forget: the grass is always greener where you water it. Rather than comparing your life to those around you, simply take time to enjoy the blessings you have. Invest in the different aspects of your life that you typically take for granted. Instead of complaining about how you work too much, invest your time and make a difference in your work-place. Perhaps changing your perception will change your reality. If you walk into work with a more upbeat attitude, you will most likely be more productive and have a better day altogether.

3. Realize most Snapchats, Instagram posts, and Facebook posts are only the most interesting part of peoples’ days.

Each post you see on social media is probably a glimpse of that person’s day. They don’t take photos or videos of the hard parts of the day, whether it is visiting an ailing parent in the hospital or working overtime to provide for their family. I am sure they sit at home oftentimes and think the same things you think about them. Everybody only posts the most exciting moments of their lives, so never let them get you bogged down. You may have experienced exhilarating moments throughout the week, but if you keep comparing yourself to others, then you may never notice them.

4. Lastly, take time to make a list of all your blessings.

In middle school, I was in a class focused around being grateful and thankful for all of the things each of the students had in his or her life, big and small. At the beginning of each class, my teacher had us write down things we appreciated for about ten minutes. Some mornings I would be in a sour mood, so it would take me a bit longer to start the assignment. After a few minutes, however, my attitude would start to change. I would realize how grateful I should be for all of the blessings in my life. Whether it was my grandmother getting out of the hospital or a simple sunrise, my day was radically transformed. I think it is interesting that we are called to rejoice in the bad times as well as the good times. Philippians 4:6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV). Personally, I think the word thanksgiving is a key aspect of this scripture. We are not to pray and grumble about our anxieties and hardships. Instead, we are to thank God in the midst of all of these problems. I definitely believe there is a connection between gratefulness and attitude.

After trying a few of these tips, I hope you will start to see all of the amazing things in this world that most people take for granted. Stop feeling down about the things that you do not have. Rejoice in the blessings He gives you daily instead. Be present, be active, and never stop being grateful.

Written by Trisha

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Do Not Break Down!

It is the start of another school year, which means it is also the time where students across the nation collectively share their frustrations through memes, GIFs, and tweets. It is time to replace relaxing vacations with piles upon piles of assignments; it can easily become depressing. We dive into panic mode and begin to ask why summer goes by so fast, will I survive another year, and is school even worth it?

Those of us who choose to pursue higher education must ultimately realize that its purpose is to propel us toward the future we desire to live out. However, it is also so easy to get discouraged and to despair at the very sight of back-to-school commercials. Do not panic! Do not break down! Here are some tips that will help you stay encouraged throughout the school year.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

If you studied longer than you usually do, did well on an exam, or finished that paper that has been taking you forever to write, take time to celebrate it! Go somewhere nice with your friends or stay-in to enjoy your favorite shows and movies. Making a habit of celebrating the little things can be a great source of motivation and encouragement throughout the school year.

Spend Some Time Shadowing or Interning

Spending time learning from people who are currently leading careers that you are interested in gives you a clear idea of what your life might be like once you have completed your education. It can help you get into the right mindset and realize how important your education is to your future, one assignment at a time. It can also encourage you to work harder and not give up on yourself, no matter how hard it gets, because the end result is so worth it!

Find a Study Buddy or Join a Study Group

Studying by yourself can easily become cumbersome, tiring, and sometimes even boring. Surrounding yourself with people that are motivated and willing to grow, however, can help you achieve your academic goals as well as boost your confidence. It gives you an opportunity to learn from different people and different perspectives.

Stay in Touch with Spiritual Role Models in Your Life

Aside from the stress that comes with school, personal and family matters can sometimes negatively affect students’ academic performance. It is extremely important that you have someone to talk to and to glean wisdom from in difficult times. Whether it is a campus counselor, a family member, or a pastor, find someone who has been faithful in their Christian walk and confide in them in times of need.

School can be extremely stressful, but it can also be delightful. In the middle of all the stress and anxiety, remember to appreciate the new friendships, memories, and learning experience each school year brings; it all contributes to the person you are becoming. Embrace the stress but indulge in self-care too!  Welcome back Pats! Let’s have a great year!

Written by Kenean

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Who Ya Gonna Call… and it Ain’t Ghostbusters

What to do when you realize you need help!

Life, without fail, is rough sometimes. As pessimistic as that sentence may seem, you can not deny that there is a hint of truth to it. Yes, inevitably, life will not be perfect. Man, that almost makes you wish that there was someone out there, literally anyone, who could live life alongside you. Someone to help you navigate through all the many trials and tribulations (although, we can hope not too many). (Anywho, it is your lucky day!) I can say with confidence that such a person does indeed exist! *Drumroll…and other introductory sounds* The person that you are searching for is called a mentor! Ok, you were probably hoping for some crazy life hack that you never even knew existed. Alas, the answer really is that simple and not at all far-fetched!

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I want a mentor… where are you?

Hmm… honestly, that is not only a great but also a very fair question. The best way to find a mentor is to start asking around. I mean it would be ridiculous to assume that a mentor will just randomly fall out of the sky, with zero effort on your part. Ideally, that would be fantastic! However, unless someone contacts you, or you sign up through some official program, you will have to put some time into finding one yourself. Wait, before you get all panicky, stop and take a breath. Getting rejected is not the end of the world; it is just a nudge to keep on searching. The right mentor is definitely out there!

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What are the official mentoring requirements?

Luckily, there are none! Trust me, the lack of specific requirements is to your advantage. Much like life, there is no cookie-cutter mold for a mentor. The mentoring process is designed for the betterment of the mentee. Thus, the two will have the flexibility to work out what best suits them. Yes, if really pressed I can be vaguer, but honestly, each case is unique. Thus, you can confidently seek out a mentoring relationship catered to your needs.

No… please at least provide some idea of who a mentor should be!

Ok, if you insist. I can shed some light on qualities to look for in a mentor:

  1. Someone who is older than you. (Again, the age gap is up to you, but remember you are looking for wisdom, which is usually added with years.)
  2. Someone you look up to. (This should really be a given!)
  3. Someone who either a) has the time or b) will make the time to meet with you regularly.

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A parting thought…

After you have experienced the mentoring process for yourself, seriously consider providing it for someone else. Be bold and initiate the mentor/mentee relationship. Remember, it is never a waste to invest in someone else. Besides, they may also choose to pass it along! Basically, you have the potential to start something great, so go for it!

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

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Created to Enjoy

Peeking out from behind closed petals, the sparkling sky catches my attention. I sway back and forth in excitement as the soft morning breeze caresses my petals. Soaking up the morning dew, I prepare for the beautiful day ahead.

To my delight, several bright, polka-dotted ladies begin to crawl across my stem, hoping to snack on some aphids before the heat of the day. If I could only get those pesky bugs to leave me alone! So rude – always eating holes through my beautiful, waxy leaves! A vibrant green, my littlest leaves droop in relief as the prestigious ladies finish their aphid breakfast. Grateful, I stand up straight and tall, stretching out my stems, hoping to provide the ladies easy passage back to their underground hideout. Unfortunately, I have to practically grow new roots to keep from squirming as those ticklish little feet travel back down my stalk!

Looking up, I sigh in wonder as the morning sun begins to peek over the mountaintop. Bright pink and orange hues dance behind the majestic mountains, anxiously awaiting their morning debut. As dawn turns into day, my little meadow slowly comes to life once again.

I release a few withered petals as several delicate butterflies resume their morning migration. Enticed by my beautiful scent, the butterflies pause to sample my sticky nectar, leaving behind pollen from other flower friends near and far. As the flutterers continue on their journey, I bask in the sun’s gentle rays: warming, loving, life-giving. Early morning chills dissipate as I stretch my head toward the sky. My sole desire in life is to share my beauty with all those around. What joy is found in the life of a flower!

As I continue warming in the sunshine, a human pushing a curious machine comes into view. My petals and leaves perk in excitement at the rare sighting. Perhaps he has come to bask in my beauty! Closer and closer he pushes the machine and louder and louder the noises become. As I wait in anticipation, early excitement turns to profound horror. Though the sun continues to shine, I feel frozen from shock. Completely helpless, I watch as flower families fall all around. Closer, closer, closer the giant machine approaches. Louder, louder, louder, the cutting noises intensify.

-chop-

I shrivel in despair as my beautiful petals sink into the dirt. Instead of enjoying, cherishing, and sharing, the mower breaks, takes, and devastates. If only mankind could understand, I am simply here to help them comprehend that the beauties of earth are for them to enjoy, so on this Earth Day, be grateful, and do not destroy.

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

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Thank You, Dirk

basket ball rack

Attached to this post, you will see two pictures. One is of a basketball hoop in the driveway that I have literally spent thousands of hours in, and the other is of a poster that has hung in the same place in my room for roughly 12 years. Neither of these things probably mean anything to you, but if you know me, you know that they mean a great deal to me.

Dirk Nowitzki was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks on June 24, 1998, and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks that same night. This was roughly four months before I was born. Not a second of my life has gone by where Dirk has not been a forward for the NBA team that plays its games roughly 40 minutes from my hometown. I have literally not known a life without Dirk being the centerpiece of the Mavericks.

It is now April 10, 2019. I am nearing the end of my sophomore year of college, and Dirk has officially reached the end of his NBA career. I understand that getting sentimental and emotional over sports can be real weird for some people, but just allow me to explain.

I have always been an incredibly anxious person. Growing up, just talking to people became almost like a nightmare. I was constantly in my head about the most minuscule things, and the thought of initiating any sort of conversation with people, in general, can still cause me to just freeze up. I love listening to people, but having full-length conversations has generally proven to be difficult for me.

But, there’s something about basketball that completely relinquishes every anxiety that I have. Every time I step onto that driveway, or any sort of court, all my energy is focused on getting that round ball into the hoop. Fear, doubt, stress, anxiety, all of it fades into the background. Basketball has been a safe haven for me, and I have no idea what I would do without it.

dirk poster

The poster that you see here was purchased at a book fair (I think) around the year 2007. Admittedly, I don’t really have any basketball-related memories before that point in my life, except that I loved the sport and I thought Dirk looked really cool on the poster (which is just a fact). As I got a little older, I started to gravitate more and more towards him, but not simply because he was the star player on my favorite team. He was a tall, lanky white guy with messy hair. I was/am a tall, lanky white guy with messy hair. He had a more low-key personality off the court. I had/have a more low-key personality. He wasn’t really all that athletic for the majority of his career. Lord knows I have never been that great of an athlete. He was this larger-than-life figure that I looked up to, but I saw a lot of myself in him, even as a child. Naturally, I spent hours upon hours trying to perfect his moves (to the point of getting called “Baby Dirk” in middle school, perhaps my proudest moment lol).

More than that though, I got to build some level of confidence in myself because of what I could do on the court. I still was pretty bad at holding conversations, but if we walk onto the court or start talking about hoops, there was some sort of transformation inside me. I had this newfound boldness in me that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. It’s like basketball, along with sports in general, has this language that automatically brings people together. It’s so bizarre that you could have nothing in common with an individual, but the moment you two step out onto the court, you are connected. And for someone who always felt like he had trouble connecting with people because of anxiety, this was huge for me. I started to form real relationships. Ministry opportunities started to arise. Basketball has been steadily breaking down the walls of anxiety that I have, and Dirk is the main reason for that. I had somebody to look to when it came to my game, and that opened so many doors for me.

Even more than that though, Dirk has been an incredible role model off the court. We’ve entered an age in the NBA where players are constantly looking for how their organizations can serve them. It’s an era where if a player is unhappy with the service they are receiving from their team, they are encouraged to find a team that will give them what they want. While I understand where players are coming from (as organizations may strive to take advantage of their players), I think this “me-first” mentality can build a really toxic environment around your team, your organization, and even your city. I think when you look for how you can serve your team, on and off the court, you build such a tight bond with everyone around you, regardless of team success or individual accolades.

I think when you look for how you can serve your team, on and off the court, you build such a tight bond with everyone around you, regardless of team success or individual accolades.

Dirk has been an incredible example of a player with a “team-first” mindset. He has taken far too many pay cuts in an attempt to give the Mavericks more flexibility in signing bigger stars. He has done so much for the community of Dallas, including an annual celebrity baseball game that supports charity and dozens of visits to local children’s hospitals as “Uncle Dirk.” He even gave up his starting role this season so that younger players could flourish sooner.

If I’m being completely honest, I could talk about Dirk for ages, but I’m not going to do that (kinda already have lol). I will just leave with this: Thank you, Dirk. Thank you for giving me confidence where I had none. Thank you for being such an amazing role model for so many young kids like me growing up in North Texas. Thank you for beating Kobe, Kevin Durant, AND LeBron all in the same playoff run; that was sick.

Thank you for 21 incredible seasons.

Thank you, Dirk.

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

Thompson, Ryan. Thank You Dirk Post. Facebook, 10 Apr. 2019, 10:02 p.m., https://www.facebook.com/superzjryan. Accessed 12 Apr. 2019.

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10 Tips to Survive and Thrive During Finals Week

Though finals week is often the college student’s worst nightmare, survival is possible! Here are ten tips to survive, and even thrive, during the most challenging part of the semester.

1. Make a study schedule (and stick to it!)

 Planning ahead of time and making a schedule will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and help you to avoid last minute cramming. To be honest, I’m a bit of an obsessive planner… I won’t even try to deny it. My flower printed Erin Condren planner is even color coded to the hour! Though hourly scheduling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve always found it helpful to prioritize my to-do list in order to decide which things are the most important. After I’ve decided on the essentials, I often reserve blocks of time throughout my week devoted to accomplishing the specific tasks on my list. This trick has saved me from several nights of last minute cramming and helps me to devote an equal amount of time to preparation for each test.

2. Eat well

As a girl with a MAJOR sweet tooth, I know how tempting Braum’s and Sonic sound during those late night study sessions. However, the simple sugars in these treats only leave me hungrier and lacking energy when it’s needed the most. In order to function at my best during finals week, I try to fill my body with nourishing fuel.  Beef jerky, granola bars, nuts, and fruit are easy snack options (found in the Patriot Store) that support brain health and keep me full and focused while preparing for that upcoming exam.

3. Use your resources

There are so many free resources offered to help students survive and thrive during finals week. For instance, the University Writing Center (*cough, cough, shameless plug here) offers students free assistance with papers at any stage of the writing process. In addition to academic advice, many local churches open their doors to students during finals week, often providing free treats and a quiet study space. If you prefer to stay on campus, the new Coffeehouse, located next to the Union, is a great place to focus!

4. Minimize distractions

In order to overcome the temptation to scroll through Doug the Pug’s social media accounts while studying, I often put my phone in Do Not Disturb mode, or open the SelfControl app on my Mac. SelfControl is a free application that allows you to block certain websites for a period of time. Sorry Doug, finals week is no time for Pugs!

Also, make sure to choose a study space where you can actually focus. Seek out a quiet spot with comfortable seating and make sure to bring snacks and water with you. Rumbling tummies and parched throats are the worst distractions of all- trust me, this distance runner knows!

5. Take a break

After several solid hours of focus, I am in desperate need of a brain break! Seeking sympathy from my mom over the phone, swinging by the pond, or watching an episode of the Great British Baking Show helps me to regain my sanity and awards me the boost needed to reopen the textbook. These short breaks are essential to successful studying and remind me that there is life beyond finals week.

6. Get comfy

Finals week is my only chance to wear my owl onesie without judgment. I suggest pulling out your comfiest, coziest outfit and snuggling down in a quiet place with your textbooks. However, make sure that your finals week ensemble isn’t too comfortable, or you may end up dozing!

7. Exercise

Although exercise may be the last thing on your mind during finals week, this long distance runner can attest that exercise releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease stress. After sitting around all day, a few trips up and down the library stairs would be the perfect brain break. However, if you want more of a challenge, treadmills, weights, and stationary bicycles can be found inside of the university Fitness Center.

8. Put down the coffee

Take it easy on the energy drinks! Although coffee and Red Bull are sure to give a quick boost, too much caffeine can actually increase anxiety. Try green tea or…

9. GET SOME SLEEP

Although this one is difficult, do your best to avoid late night cramming. Trust me, you will not benefit from all-nighters. In fact, sleep deprivation even decreases concentration and leads to memory loss, headaches, and stress! Get some sleep, ideally six to eight hours.

10. Keep an eternal perspective

Although you understandably want to ace all of your finals, remember that you are not defined by test scores. As Christians, our identity is secure in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This life is so temporary and each day is a gift from God! During finals week, remember to be grateful for the opportunity to receive an education and rejoice; no matter your grade, God is still sovereign and He is still working for our good.

Written by Leah