Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Final Post Here


It's time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I'd much rather say hello.
Hello to a new adventure.


After over 500 posts, 28,000 views from over 25 different countries within an 8 year- period, it's time to move on to bigger adventures. I am looking forward to new beginnings with all of the talents God has blessed me with.
 One of which will be my book When Christmas Comes to Town, a reflection of all the great Christmas movies that we've grown to love, coming Christmas 2017. I cannot say thank you enough for all those who have read my posts, especially my Christmas Movie reviews which has encouraged me to move forward with this project.
Also, as a nature photographer, I am looking forward to branching out more with my photography. You can checkout my photography at: www.pictalesblog.wordpress.com.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to share, encourage, and build up others throughout this journey. But, take heart, this is just the beginning!
I will keep this blog active so you may spread to others some of the great testimonies I've been able to share.
Until we meet again, stay strong, be encouraged, and never forget God loves you no matter what you think about yourself.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

So This Happened



"Peace begins with a smile."- Mother Teresa
 
This past week I spoke at a chapel service held at a posh retirement/rehab facility downtown in the city of Chicago. The chapel was a small room filled with stained glass windows, some were forms of art depicting the image of Jesus.
 
Along with my study on the subject of peace, I used some visual art of my own that resembled peace,
a couple of my nature photographs.
 

 
This stunning artwork, created by the One and Only...God, brought a smile upon the group's faces.
I preceded to challenge them with the proverbial line, "What do these pictures say to you?"
Their answer was exactly what I was searching for, peace.
 
Subsequently they began to ponder and explore their thoughts even more and then one elderly woman named Joan spoke up,
 
"Look at that picture of Jesus, there. (as she pointed to the stained glass art) That disturbs me because He isn't smiling. I don't know why that is. I don't see Jesus like that at all. I see Him as smiling."
 
Yep, Joan just opened up a whole new can of worms with that one! I explained to her that the stoic face of Jesus in that piece of art was probably how the artist envisioned Jesus.
 
There is a long-standing tale of how artist Leonardo Da Vinci had trouble putting the final touches onto his great masterpiece The Lord's Supper. While painting his most famous work, Da Vinci had a quarrel with a friend. This deeply disturbed him so much he used his foe's face as that of Judas
(you know, the guy who betrayed Jesus!) in his painting.
 
After three years of arguing with his friend and not able to complete his work to his satisfaction,
Da Vinci finally gave in and made peace with his enemy, changed the face of Judas on his painting, was happy with his finished work, and as they say, "The rest is history!"
 
As Henry David Thoreau once said, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
 
See Jesus for who He is not with your eyes, but with your heart.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 4, 2016

At Last!



Julie Andrews once said, "Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th."
For the Chicago Cubs however, the stats are much higher. For the Cubs it was failing 107 years and succeeding the 108th time, but's who's counting?!

When the Chicago Cubs finally delivered by winning the World Series and ending the longest drought in sports history, it reminded me of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and what happened after they finally won.

The Boston Red Sox were wrapped up in a losing tradition that lasted 86 years, second only to the Cubs, and they carried with them a slew of Red Sox Nation (die-hard fans). If you are an avid baseball fan then you know all about the rich history of the Red Sox and Cubs and the so called curse they each carried.

The Red Sox curse was known as Curse of the Bambino stemming from the team trading away the great Babe Ruth and then proceeding to lose for the next 86 years.

The Chicago Cubs curse involved a billy goat. When Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis tried bringing a goat into the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field and would eventually get kicked out of the stadium, he put a hex on the Cubs exclaiming, "The Cubs will never get back into the World Series. Ever."

I guess this would be a good place as any to add the disclaimer that I do not believe in curses.

As for those Red Sox, their fan base is just like the Cubs, it's a generational fan base handed down from generation to generation or simply put, you were born into a family that followed these two historic franchises.

 In 2004 when the Red Sox finally ended the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series something very strange happened in the city of Boston the next few days. The most loyal elderly Red Sox fan base, the 97- 103 year-olds began to die of natural causes soon after the Red Sox victory. Medical staff and family members suggested that it was as if these folks had hung on just long enough to see their beloved Red Sox win it all and then could finally die in peace.

Today I carry with me that same kind of peace. Now, I am nowhere near that elderly stage, but after watching my beloved Cubs finally win it all after 108 years, I can relate to what those elderly Red Sox  fans may have felt. An overwhelming sense of peace. A certain peace that can only be described as a loyal die-hard fan peace.

Someone once said, "Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time", and oh what a journey us loyal Cubs fans have been on. Cannot wait for the next journey and where it may lead.


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Memories: Past, Present, Future


"I've cried and I laughed. Laughing is a helluva lot better." - Glen Campbell


As a lifetime resident of the Chicago area and a Cubs fan these are exciting times. The Chicago Cubs finally making it to the World Series after 71 years is a dream come true. It has also been for me a whirlwind of memories in recent days, memories as a kid growing up and being a Cubs fan. Most of those years were filled with heartache watching them consistently lose or come close only to fall apart in the end, but within those memories there was also joy. Gramps would take me fishing many summer days and then we would sit in the car on a hot afternoon and eat lunch while listening to Cubs games on the radio. And then there were those summer days where as a kid I would caravan with a large church group to Cubs games and sit in the bleachers with my sack lunch and root on the boys in blue. These are the memories I will never forget... or will I?

They say that no one can ever take away your memories but unfortunately there is a disease that can and it's called Alzheimer's. I recently watched the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, the story of country/pop singer Glen Campbell and his struggle with Alzheimer's. This well-worth watching film shows Glenn in his first stages of this fatal disease and not able to even remember his children's names, and the courage and strength he carried to go ahead and do a farewell tour not knowing what affect the disease may have on his memory to sing his songs.

 This was a year-long tour and it was amazing to see how quickly Alzheimer's took away some of his memory. Toward the middle of the tour they had to start using a teleprompter to give him the words to the songs he had been singing and performing for over 40 years. But astonishingly he had no trouble playing the guitar and was able to pick up from the lead of his band which included 3 of his children.

Glen's wife was more fearful not of him being able to perform well but what he might do while on stage. The crowds were not only entertained but forgiving as they would sometimes see Glen forgetting what was to happen next during the shows. Glen Campbell was always known as a jokester so even when he messed up on stage while combating this disease he would just laugh it off and the loving crowd laughed with him.

Glen Campbell's farewell tour was not only a sign of courage and strength but brought a wider attention to Alzheimer's.

While Glen Campbell was losing his memory he was also making memories for his family.

His children were able to perform with him on stage, follow him on tour for the first time, sing and play instruments with him in the recording studio for one last album, and watch their daddy show courage amongst one of the most painful diseases, one of losing your memory.

Today Glen Campbell is in the last stages of Alzheimer's and has lost all forms of communication.

One thing Glen Campbell has taught me is the importance of making memories with family and friends, if not for today but for the future.

It's never too late for you to start making memories.

 
 
I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'till the end.
 
- Glen Campbell
 





















 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

He Said What?


"The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty." - Zig Ziglar
 
In a day and age where arrogance and selfishness has replaced honesty and integrity it was a heart warming moment between a ball player and umpire that has stirred our hearts today. Most baseball players use the tactic of intimidation versus umpires when it comes to balls and strikes. Confused? Let me explain:
 
When a batter approaches toward first base after a pitch he thinks is ball four but the umpire sees it as a strike, the baseball player is clearly trying to either persuade the umpire to see it their way and call it a ball four and a walk or the hitter is trying to make a fool of the umpire in front of millions of viewers.
 
In last night's important Game Four of a championship series between the Chicago Cubs and LA Dodgers, this sequence of events occurred between Cubs captain Anthony Rizzo and umpire Angel Hernandez. The next time Rizzo came to bat and feeling like he was trying to intimidate the umpire even though that wasn't his intention, he apologized to umpire Hernandez. The umpire's reply was simply,
 
"Your fault for what brother?” Hernandez replied. “Come on, you’re good, bro. You're awesome with us. No, no worries. You’re competing. I understand. Don’t worry. You know what’s best of it? You come back and tell me that. That’s how good of a guy you are.”
 
Oh.... for these classic moments to remind us that honesty and integrity still exists in America!