New year brings opportunity for personal goals
Jan28

New year brings opportunity for personal goals

THE BELLS — It’s January – the beginning of a new year. People make goals that in many cases are unrealistic and hard to bring to fruition. Many students are seeking personal betterment and have high aspirations but don’t always know how to reach their objectives. The university has the resources to help its attendees realize their ambitions whether they concern fitness, career planning or academic excellence. Director of Campus Recreation Sue Weaver wants students to be aware of tools and events her department provides to keep them fit and healthy. She said, “One thing that we really want to … let people know about is our new area to bicycle and jog and hike and run in the … Outdoor Education and Recreation Center…. There’s a great big area – it’s huge. There’s a trail. There are even some benches for people if they get tired. We want to highlight that area … and we’re working on a map of the area.” The Rec Center is in the planning stages for events using the newly opened outdoor space, which is by Nolan Creek behind the Conference Center. In addition to the usual Cru Fit classes, many may not know that a personal training program is available. Weaver has advice for people wanting to hold themselves accountable when it comes to achieving goals. “I have my own goals for this semester,” she said. “I think the main thing is to keep things in front of you that remind you of what you’re supposed to be doing.” Not only do students need to consider setting and maintaining fitness commitments, they need to look toward their futures. Don Owens, director of Career Services for the university, said his favorite aspect of the job is “helping students capture … and discover the unique gifts they have and how to apply those gifts in the workplace that would give them fulfillment and passion in their life’s work.” Owens said this helps students to “think outside the box because we want them to pursue something where there’s gainful employment…. That includes career planning. Career planning is a four-year process. It’s not something you just do two weeks before you graduate.” The office provides interest assessments, mock interviews and a variety of forms of information that help students discern what fields would be a good fit for them. Owens’ advice to students is to begin planning for post-graduation success now by using the tools put at their disposal at careerservices.umhb.edu/cru-connection. Owens said 47 percent of jobs come from relationships people have established with other professionals. The Center for Academic Excellence is a resource for students...

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Dream wedding for one Crusader
Nov20

Dream wedding for one Crusader

The Waco Convention Center boomed with bright and buoyant brides from all over central Texas, their fingers crossed, anxiously waiting for their name to roar through the microphone saying they had won the prize. It was the Central Texas Engagement’s $40,000 Dream Wedding Giveaway at the Oct. 27 Event for the Elegant Bride. It was a mere chance, a simple luck of the draw, a few cards out of the hundreds that rolled in the raffle cage; despite the odds, UMHB senior Christian studies major Mary Parrish walked away with a dream come true that she did not anticipate. “There was a very small glimmer of hope,” Parrish said. “It was more like, ‘Wow this would be so awesome if it happened, but it probably won’t.’” The closing act of the bridal show left moms, brides and a few fiances on the edge of their seats while they sat creating a feet-stomping drum roll that excited the crowd. Parrish and her fiance, Herman Iles, a psychology major at Baylor University, sat near the emcee as hosts drew the first name, but it was not hers. “We drew the first winner, (but) she declined the prize although she was aware of the rules,” Central Texas Engagements publisher Michele Berger said. Name number one was a bride from Dallas who wasn’t ready to let go of her own venue and pre-planned details, leaving the hosts no choice but to select another card. Brides who chose to participate in the drawing were given a few simple stipulations, which included the date, location of the reception and the bride’s presence during the sweepstakes. “All of the brides had to agree to get married on July 25, 2014,” Berger said. “Eligible winners (also) had to be present in order to win the drawing.” Following the first pick, much of the crowd had dispersed as the frantic winner tried to make a decision, and Parrish, her mom and Iles made their way out the door. Lucky for them, a florist stopped the couple to give away samples. “We were looking at the bouquets when they made the announcement saying ‘don’t leave yet,’” Parrish said. “I’ve never ran so fast in a pair of heels in my life. I just wanted to get back up there.” Although the couple each thought they would stay a little longer to listen to the second call, Parrish was one step ahead. “I was going to turn to ask her, ‘Hey do you think we should go back up there?’ and before I (began) she was already halfway up there.” Iles said. “Well I guess we are going back.” Parrish...

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Christmas controversy leads to winter wordplay

Don we now our fun apparel… wait, what?  Jack Frost may not be nipping noses yet, but the holiday spirit is now in full swing. Besides, the National Football League marketing for Thanksgiving is practically nonexistent, which leaves Christmas the object of every other commercial or magazine ad people lay eyes on during this season. Given the religious nature and origin of every child’s favorite celebration, controversy is always sure to present itself once people start singing carols and drinking hot chocolate. This year is no different, thanks to a Hallmark Christmas tree ornament that is causing many faces to turn candy cane red in outrage. The decoration is a miniature tacky sweater that has altered lyrics to “Deck the Halls” on the front. The words read, “Don we now our fun apparel,” while the original reading is, “Don we now our gay apparel.” This caused a huge social media backlash from both gays and straights. Some of the complaints said that Hallmark was implying that gays dressed differently and that it was wrong to be gay. This is a classic case of “d—– if you do, d—– if you don’t.” To younger generations, the word gay is immediately related to homosexuality, which could lead to confusion as to the intent of the ornament. This misunderstanding would, without a doubt, lead to less business from tradition–friendly families and younger generation heterosexuals. However, when Hallmark felt compelled to diverge from use of the word “gay,” the homosexual community became furious with the greeting card company. After all, there is no crime more distasteful than discrimination. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Hallmark can only expect coal for Christmas after this costly mistake. Add “gay” to the list of controversial words on everyone’s lips during the holiday season. Other tension points that show themselves to the Christian community year after year include Merry X-mas, Happy Holidays, Santa Claus and the origin of the Christmas tree. The holiday is Christmas, nothing else. Santa Claus is not real, and the history of the Christmas tree is unknown. Let’s put everything into a Christian university perspective. Christmas is a holiday intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ sent as a gift from God to save people from their sins. That should be the true nature of Christmas–not controversy, presents, trees or Rudolf. Is Christmas a celebration for Christians only? Obviously, the holiday is observed far beyond the reaches of a certain religion. Christians should not get caught up in angry debates and controversy, but should focus on sharing the gospel during this season. When Dec. 25 finally rolls around, people should...

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Meaning transcends tradition
Nov20

Meaning transcends tradition

The approaching holiday season provokes thoughts on how and why people celebrate Tradition. It’s a word commonly associated with the holidays. With Thanksgiving and the Christmas season upon us, families will be going through the motions of rituals they perform every year, sometimes not giving much thought to why they do them. Sophomore education major Savannah Davis said the holidays are a time of reconnecting. “When I think of tradition,” she said, “I think of family and friends. Safe. Comfortable. Fun to do every year.”   Sometimes the motivation of a custom can change with time. Davis gave an example of when this is true. “At Christmas when we were younger, we would always put out cookies for Santa. But now we still put out cookies for him even though we no longer believe Santa’s real. The meaning is different for us now, but we still do it because it’s tradition.” There is one particular custom that Davis enjoys. “The day after Thanksgiving, we set up our Christmas tree. We’ve had the same one since I was 4. We have decorations we’ve collected over the years. I want to keep some of them and hope to do the same thing with my kids.” Passing customs down through the family is something that sophomore art education major Alana Filban connects very closely with the definition of tradition. She said, “I see it as something that happens every year with family and is carried on through the generations– something that’s comfortable and planned.” Like Davis, she, too, has a favorite holiday ritual. “Christmas Eve, we open one gift. Christmas morningwhen we get up, I love looking at the Christmas tree and drinking hot chocolate. I like it because I don’t get to see my family that often,” she said. Filban places an emphasis on reconnecting with relatives. She’s been making plans for how she will draw the ones she loves nearer during future holiday seasons. “I want to bring my family closer together. I would make every child in my family feel loved and special,” she said. Filban makes an effort not to forget why she celebrates certain holidays. “I remind myself that Thanksgiving is a day to think about how thankful you are. Christmas, for me, is about connecting with family. Every year, I’m reminded of Jesus. It’s a big celebration time to remember him and what he’s done for me. It’s a reminder that he’s alive.” Junior graphic design major Brittany Davis, Savannah’s older sister, is concerned about a societal holiday tradition she sees as harmful to the true meaning of what this time of year is supposed to symbolize....

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Deck the halls with boughs of duck calls
Nov20

Deck the halls with boughs of duck calls

The Robertson family from the hit show Duck Dynasty is at it again. They showed the world that their talents don’t end with making duck calls and hilarious television. On Oct. 29 they released their first Christmas album, Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas. Listen to one song, and you will quickly see that the humor in the show has transitioned into fun Christmas carols. The album has 14 songs, with some of the more popular  being “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas,” “Hairy Christmas” and “Duck the Halls.” Every song on the track has its own personality. For instance, in the song “Christmas Cookies,” Phil Robertson talks about Miss Kay’s Christmas cookies, which will surely bring some laughter. You might think that the songs would be poorly done, but in reality the Robertson family can sing. Not only do they do a fantastic job themselves, but they brought in some of the most notable and sought-after voices in the country music industry to accompany them in this album. Luke Bryan, Josh Turner, Alison Krauss and last, but not least, the king of country music himself, George Strait, make an appearance. The songs are a mixture of traditional Christmas hymns with a southern twist, to the Robertsons’ very own construction of Christmas carols.  As many know, they are a religious family and not afraid to confess their love for Christ. This is evident throughout the album. It is currently #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. This should be encouraging—that people who may never listen to Christmas music are getting a true feel of the season The album ends with Phil Robertson saying a prayer that  emphasizes what  Christmas  is all about. Yes, some of the songs are a bit goofy, but a number of songs on the track clearly point out the reason for the season. There is a song for everyone on this album. It mixes country music and Christmas carols perfectly with relevant and meaningful lyrics. I am usually not a fan of Christmas music, but this album is different. “Camouflage and Christmas Lights” stood out to me because it paints a picture of the Christmas season that only people from a small, southern town can appreciate. As well done as these songs are, they could stick around for some time and maybe even become Christmas carols your kids will be listening to. Really, how do you make a better Christmas album than one that has Si Robertson and George Strait in the same song? If you don’t want to buy the whole album, which I strongly encourage, make sure you at least check out some of their...

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A dark day for Texas, a tragedy for America
Nov06

A dark day for Texas, a tragedy for America

Nearly 50 years ago, Dallas, Texas, was the epicenter for a tragedy of historic proportion. Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed one of America’s most well known and beloved presidents — John F. Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963. In the convertible with the president was Texas Gov. John Connally, who was shot, but lived. The two unscathed first ladies, Jackie and Nellie, watched in horror as the murder unfolded. Immediately after the bullets hit their target, the limousine began racing toward Parkland Hospital, just on the outskirts of downtown. Today in the U.S., a lot of confusion and mystery still surround the events that led to the assassination. Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, has devoted the majority of his professional life to studying Kennedy, his death and the atmosphere of the city during that politically tumultuous era. The museum specializes in the films and photographs taken the day of the killing. Hundreds of hours of video and a treasure trove of pictures are open to the public. Mack said. “Some Kennedy family members have visited the Sixth Floor Museum. We don’t identify them by name. When they get inquiries about the assassination, they say, ‘call the folks in Dallas. They know that stuff.’” Although the Kennedys may outwardly claim not to have much interest in the assassination, one has to wonder if they’re at least curious. “It’s been interesting to me to observe the public statements the family has made. They’ve always said they’re really not interested in learning this part of the story over and over and over again. They’ve discouraged questions about re-opening the assassination investigations, but it turns out they’re just as curious as everyone else…. Some parts of the story just don’t have a satisfactory answer,” Mack said. One of those parts, the shooter, Oswald, was a shady character who defected to the Soviet Union and came back the U.S. full of bitterness. To help shed light on the events surrounding the murder, a former employee of the Texas School Book Depository spoke as part of the Sixth Floor Museum’s Living History series. Because of a car pooling arrangement, he drove the assassin to work that terrible day. Due to a deteriorating domestic life, Oswald stayed in a Dallas rental house during the week, but went to live with his Russian wife, Marina, in Irving during the weekends. Buell Wesley Frazier, who lived near Irving took pity on Oswald and volunteered to drive him out of the city on Friday afternoons and bring him back to work on Monday mornings. He told him, “Lee, anytime you want to go out and...

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