Thursday, May 26, 2016

Should Have Gotten an A +

"Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I'm not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be."
- John Wayne

The design of the American flag has been modified 26 times since 1777. The current design of the flag comes from Robert G. Heft who was 17 years old at the time of his design in 1958. He created the flag design for a school project to which he received a B- for his effort. (thanks Wikipedia)

His teacher gave him a B- ?

 Really? You would think sometime between 1958 and now that his teacher would have changed his grade to an A+.         

And since I feel like giving out grades with this post, I would give an F to all of those in the political arena, some school administrations, and any other U.S. citizen who is opposed to flying the old red, white and blue.

What led me to writing this post, aside from Memorial Day coming up, was the nugget I found in the news last week. A South Carolina High School student was told to take down his American flag from his pickup truck which he parked on school grounds during school. Once he took this to social media the following day there was a huge parade in front of the school of many towns folk waving their American flag.

 Upon further research I found that more and more schools, universities and public places are opposed to flying the American flag for fear of offending others. Hmm, I distinctly remember after 9/11 that was all you saw was red, white and blue colors from car bumpers to car windows to house porches to lampposts to t-shirts. You could not get away from those colors anywhere within the US.

The American flag represents our nation's strength and unity, even in the midst of all her flaws as John Wayne puts it.

 Yes, we may have our flaws here in America, but we cannot forget the sacrifice of all those men and women who fought for our freedom.

Don't be afraid to wave Old Glory, especially this Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S.

Thank you to all those who served and sacrificed for our freedom and to those that still serve!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

From Sandlot to Just a Memory

"We all lived in the neighborhood for a couple of more years-mostly through junior high school-and every summer was great. But none of them ever came close to that first one. When one guy would move away, we never replaced him on the team with anyone else. We just kept the game going like he was still there."
- Smalls, from the film Sandlot

One of the best kids films of all-time especially for boys both young and old is the movie The Sandlot. A simple story about a bunch of kids playing sandlot baseball on hot summer days. Watching this film always brings me back to my childhood and the fun we had as kids and some of the crazy conversations we had before, during, and after games. Some adolescent hijinx:

"Where did your old man get that ball?"

"I don't know. Some lady gave it to him. She even signed her name on it. Some lady named Ruth. Baby Ruth."

"Babe Ruth!!?"

As a grade school kid we played our summer baseball games every night after dinner. Our sandlot was a field next to my best friends house, half-a-block from my home and we would play  until nightfall or until the invasion of the mosquitos, whichever came first. Our bases were different every night, some nights we either used newspaper, empty pop bottles, or just a plain old twig. When we became really desperate we would use the shirts on our back, anything to play the game.

The other day while driving in the area I decided to drive through our old neighborhood for the first time in over 20 years. The house I lived in was still there but painted differently. The once wooden fence that housed our backyard and our hand-made frozen ice rinks for wintertime hockey was of yesteryear, replaced with a crooked, rusty iron fence. The grade school down the street was gone, replaced by a much larger school, a learning center. And where the old sandlot was, now sits a home. Much of the neighborhood has changed, but the memories remain.

Memories will always be there no matter how much those things around us change. A lifetime of memories can never be replaced.

Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age,
and certain memories can never fade.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fair Weather Walkers

"In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."
- Mark Twain

With Spring comes the explosion of all things green, flowers blooming, birds singing, and an increase of walkers on the trails. Everyone from dog walkers, baby stroller pushing mommas, speed walkers, joggers and yes, even bike peddling junkies; all trying to catch a glimpse of Spring and all it's beauty.

For myself, a sports junkie familiar with the term fair weather fan, I have just recently discovered where this term derives from. In most dictionaries a fair weather fan is defined as: someone who is only interested in a sports team when it is doing well.

As an avid nature photographer and my love for the outdoors, my favorite place to walk has seen an increase of trail buddies in recent days. Where the heck were all these walkers a month ago? Two months ago? Like most folks, in hiding waiting for the rights of Spring to come hither. Hence, the term fair weather.

Even on the darkest of days, even in Spring, there is beauty to be found, as this picture presents:

Hail to all those of us that love the outdoors no matter what the weather may be like!
A fair weather person can also be depicted within their spiritual walk, too. Some things to ask yourself:
Am I only joyful when things are going good in my life?
Am I more worshipful when things are going good in my life?
Do I only call upon and seek the Lord when things are not going good?
If you've answered yes to any of these, you may be a fair weather worshiper. In order to experience the fullness of God, you need to worship Him in spirit and truth, in good times and bad.
In no way am I suggesting that if you are a fair weather walker that you are also a fair weather worshiper. But I do believe those of us who do enjoy the beauty and majesty of our creator in all seasons, carry with us an advantage. Worshiping God within our daily lives no matter what the circumstance, or in this case weather, has a way of preparing us for whatever storm may come our way. When you choose to walk and bask in God's glory consistently you: fall into His grace, His mercy,
His favor, His blessings, His love, and His peace.
If we could just carry within us what King David declared, "His praise will continuously be on my lips", our daily lives would become less stagnant and peace would overrule our lives.
"There is a joy in intimate alignment with God that removes all the weariness of life.
It takes you out of a place of anxiety and fear and worry and all those passive, negative emotions." - Graham Cooke


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Corner of Haight and Ashbury

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
- Mother Teresa

The summer of 1967 was declared to be the summer of love and created by...yep, hold on to your hat for this one..."The Council for Summer of Love".  It was to take place every weekend that summer on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco, the birth place of the hippie movement (not my choice of words but that of a recent documentary on the sixties and I like it). The objective for that particular summer by it's council was that everyone who would come to visit would come in love and treat each other in love.

Most of the youth were drawn to this corner not just for love and peace, but for LSD. Wow! That rhymes so much it should be a song: Love, Peace and LSD.

 Forget the Golden Gate Bridge, it was The Psychedelic Shop that was attracting all the attention in San Francisco. It was the place for hanging out, listening to music, smoking pot, and venting about life and how tragic it was and how everyone should live in ecstasy. Outside the shop youth were either playing instruments, dancing in the streets, or selling beads and tie dye shirts. Oh and shhh, don't tell anyone but..drugs. Yes, selling lots of drugs!

What was once imagined to be a summer of love and great pilgrimage turned out to be a war of youth culture vs. the establishment. And the establishment won.
By the fall of 1967 the corner of Haight and Ashbury was abandoned, trashed, and laden with drugs and homeless. I like how the Huffington Post once described this corner today,

"While a stroll down Haight street today certainly evokes nostaligia, it also makes us yearn for a place that once was the epicenter of peace and love...."

Despite all the drugs and the hippie movement's ideology of love and peace and they're philosophy of everything shared, everything free; you can't hide the fact that they did try to unite people to come together in love and peace.

In the streets of Chicago, where shootings and murder just keeps escalating year after year, one wonders how the Council of Summer of Love would approach this.  Imagine with me, if you will, a council of churches declaring this a summer of love. A summer where The Church makes it's presence known and felt throughout the many neighborhoods of Chicagoland.

If you do live in one of the surrounding areas and suburbs of Chicago and your church is looking for a connection to help get involved in the city, especially with the homeless, the Night Ministry is always looking for groups to partner with them. The link to their website is on my home page.

And of course, the greatest good all of us can do no matter where we live, is this:

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)