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Viewing Blog: Ducks In My Pool and other stories......, Most Recent at Top
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Why are stories important? How have they shaped our thinking and view of the world? Come follow my stories and see what we have in common. Ducks In My Pool, is about a family of ducks who chose our backyard as a safe place to build their nest. For over ten years ducklings have hatched and swam in our pool. I realized God gave me a metaphor through the ducks to show His love and safety as I trust in Him.
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1. Barcelona Scooters Have Advantages Americans Can Learn From

Barcelona is filled with people who ride scooters and motorcycles. On a recent trip I noticed them weaving in and out of traffic with ease.  Drivers could be in a nice suite, dress, slacks, or the latest fashion.  They all have one purpose, get to their next destination on time.
Americans can learn from Europeans because to cope with high gas prices, scooters are everywhere.  


  In Barcelona, they swarm around cars like a  school of fish surrounding a whale.  Huge buses don't intimidate them.  They have an amazing since of perspective and can judge distances between large cars.
Riders look very fit and agile as they gracefully flow in the ocean of traffic.  
Why are they so popular?  They get amazing gas mileage.  The Honda Metroplitan 50 gets 100 MPG because it's so small.  Even the larger Honda Silverwing gets 52 MPG.  Another advantage is scooters are inexpensive compared to cars.  For example you can buy a Kymco Agility 50 for 1,599 new.  They are cheap to insure and maintain.  Insurance may cost 90 dollars a year for basic liability.  A motorcycle is higher at around 500 dollars for the same coverage.  
Many are free to park or almost free.  Scooters can park closer to your destination. They have handy compartments for storage.  
Another advantage is they look cool.  Scooters come in all colors but the red is a favorite.

Women carry purses just to their side.  

Cars seem to respect scooters in Barcelona because it has become a way of life.  
The new electric scooter is also an option.  Tourists may rent scooters as a fun way to see the city.  They cost around 30 euros for one day and 91 euros for three days of sightseeing.  
Always wear a helmet to stay safe.  
All ages ride scooters as a inexpensive way to travel.

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2. Sagrada Familia- Barcelona's Treasure

Sagrada Familia is a magical Catholic Church full of light and colors of the rainbow constructed by the famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi to honor God.  He envisioned a visual narrative of Christ's life.


 Two million visitors come to Barcelona each year to see the amazing church, inspired by his religious faith and love of nature.   He  worked on the project for forty years knowing future generations would complete it. "My client is not in a hurry," Gaudi used to say.    It is suppose to be finished in the middle of the 21st century.  It was only twenty-five percent finished when Gaudi died. The last year of his life he actually lived on the site.
The construction began in 1883, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms.  It was inspired by natural forms  found in nature.  According to the philosophy, art should be a way of life.  
Gaudi left detailed instructions on how the work should be completed.  Computers have aided to the understanding of his complex thinking.  He studied the effects of light on nature.  He said the origin of all things is nature, created by God.  
There was a burst of color using the power of the sun's rays.  His belief in natural engineering helped shape the modern science of biomimetics.  Gaudi grew up fascinated by geometry and the natural wonders of the Catalonian countryside.  He struggled in many aspects of school and some say he may have had Asperger. Many students who are right brain visual think in a three dimensional way.  He made his plans for the church in three-dimensional

models rather than as conventional drawings.  The models helped his successors.  He understood that nature was created by laws of mathematics.  Design in nature explains the phenomenon of physics, bridging art with science.
"Nothing is art if it does not come from nature," he concluded.
The church  looked like a natural rainbow of green, blue, orange and red mixed together to create a bridge of truth.
Just below this stain glass window was the passion of Christ.


 Gaudi was very religious and wanted to show how Jesus died on the cross for our sins.   

A giant organ was placed behind the passion of Christ to play hymns of adoration.

Gaudi wanted to honor God with his creation.  

The outside of the church shows the nativity scene, one of the four facades.
It shows the twelve apostles who followed Jesus and continued his teachings after his death.
Gaudi's cathedral stands tall to reach the skies of Barcelona.  I think Gaudi would have been pleased to know so many visitors want to come and see a place of worship to glorify God.  

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3. Explore Granada Churches

I discovered many places of worship in Granada, Spain.  Iglesia de Santa Ana was celebrating mass on a summer evening in June with active members participating in a procession honoring Mary.  The church has been celebrating worship since 1501 when it was built by Diego de Siloe in a renaissance style.

Families came to practice their faith as traditions were past down to future generations.
Tapestries were held with strong arms to display honor.
Church members played their instruments
to the beat of the band marching step by step.
The procession passed across Plaza Nueva.
To the churches's courtyard in Santa Ana Plaza.

The colorful procession of lighted candles continued up River Darro.
Cars were decorated with ribbons and flowers.

Families greeted one another after mass.

Sons took care of their mothers.
It was a time of celebration of faith with pageantry.


The Cathedral of Granada was another expression of faith.  It was a Gothic style church built by Enrique de Egas.  On order of the Catholic Monarchs construction began in 1523.  It continued under the Renaissance masetro, Diego de Siloe, the same designer of the Santa Ann Church.  
Queen Isabella and Ferdinand wanted to be buried in the church. 
As I went inside the church had a sweet Spirit of peace.  
Fresh flowers were in display as floral aromas filled the space.
Each alcove had something special to share.
A church located in the Albecin  had been a prison, before it became a place of worship.
I heard nuns singing at around 12:00 in the church.  


There are many more places of faith to discover in Granada, Spain.  There are monasteries and  abbes waiting to explore.

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4. Dining With A View in Granada Spain


Granada has some amazing places to enjoy delicious food with an incredible view.  


 Cafe Bar Al Candu has a fantastic view of the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace.

As the evening progressed the colors changed with the light.
Everyone was snapping photos from their table.
Lights reflect the ancient past.

For ten euros we had a three course dinner.  I chose humus as the first course dripping with fresh olive oil.

My husband had mixed salad with fresh vegetables.  Later came the tender chicken curie and scrumptious torte line.

It's a custom for the bride to invite friends to party before getting married.  She carries a whistle to guide her group to fun.  It added to the party atmosphere as they marched around.

Last came the creamy flan desert.
Three different musicians played in the background.  The gentle breeze kept us cool in Granada Spain.

The next day we ate at a charming restaurant right across from the Alhambra.  This was the view right from our table.
I ordered a local dish prepared with almonds and honey.  The chicken was so tender you could cut it with a fork.  I wanted to go ask for the recipe.
There were three terraces with a beautiful coi pond.  A celebration of local artists were having a viewing of their paintings.  

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5. Seville Spain

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6. Seville The Cultural Capital of Southern Spain

Seville is the cultural capital of southern Spain because of its rich history. The Tartessians were primitive settlers who named the port Spal or lowland.  Romans, Visigoths, and Moors translated the name into their own language until it became Seville.  Each civilization  brought their flavor of architecture, food, and commerce.


 It was the only city in Spain on the edge of a navigable river but far enough away from the threat of pirates on the coast.




 It became the jewel in the Spanish crown after Christopher Columbus sailed from the port in 1492 to discover America. The first sailor to sight America and shout 'land ahoy", was from Seville.  After two months at sea Juan Rodriguez Bermejo was excited to see the land of San Salvador.  Amerigo Vespucci was another explorer from Seville who drew maps of his voyages to the new continent.  His maps were so important to spreading the news about the new continent, it was named after him.

  Seville became prosperous as a trade port of gold, silver and precious stones brought back from explorers.
Porcelain  tells the story of merchants prospering from Spaniards bringing back corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cocoa, pineapple, papaya, cinnamon, vanilla and other foods which spread throughout Europe.  

Juan Sebastian Elcano was the first person to sail a ship around the world on September 22, 1522.  He wanted to prove the earth was round so it took him three years to complete the voyage.  
Sweet blossoms fill the air of generations of the past living their lives on a prosperous trade route.  The river allowed Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians access to foreign travel bringing riches even from the Orient.   

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7. Wessels Living History Farm The Spirit of American Agriculture

Wessels Living History Farm in York, Nebraska captures the spirit of hard working farmers contributing to the breadbasket of American agriculture.  Learn about farming in the 1920's to present day.  David Wessel donated his land so generations could see the advancement of technology from plowing with horses to huge tractors run by computers.

A plow is a farm tool with  one or more heavy blades that breaks the soil to cut small ditches for sowing seeds.

Engine powered farm tractors made farming easier to plant more seeds.

John Deere was an American mechanic who invented the all steel one piece broad blade to cut through the soil.  He started his own company with his sons so farmers could partake in his innovations.
Enter the house with guided tours of what it was like to live on a farm in the 1920s

Farming was hard work with every member of the family having chores. Women tested to see if the pie was done by sticking their hand in the oven to check the temperature.
Women cooked on cast iron skillets and it took a strong scrubber to clean it.
The 145 acre farm features a red, timber framed barn, corn crib, machine shed, garage, chicken coop and a large windmill of the 1920's.

Learn what it was like to grind up corn into meal.

Live animals are fun for the children to discover.  
Visit a church where people came to worship.  Weddings are performed there.
Take interstate 80 and exit 353 to 5520 South Lincoln Ave in York, Nebraska.  The farm site is open from May 1 to October 31 Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30 to 4:30 and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:30. The farm can be rented for parties, reunions, wedding and other special events.   

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8. Lees Legendary Marbles in York, Nebraska

It's worth the visit to see Lee Batterton's collection of over one million antique marbles.  You walk in the store to visually see jars of marbles neatly arranged on shelves. It's a museum of marbles ranging from rare hand made quality from Germany to machine made.
Lee loved to play marbles as a child because he was pretty good at it.  His large hands made him the best shot in his class.  The game became popular in 1907  A favorite birthday present was a bag of marbles for a dime.  Each marble was hand blown making each marble unique in color and design.  

Lee likes to go to Marble Shows to display his rare finds.  He began serious collecting when stationed in Germany.  His spare bedroom became a storage for the round balls of glass rainbows. He continued his hobby in the states going to auctions and sharing his love of the collection with others.  After forty years of collecting he decided to open up a shop so the public could have a chance to purchase the colorful gems.  Some marbles are so rare they date back to the 1700's.  Not all marbles are made of glass.  Other materials are clay, steel, ivory, wood, china, stone, and the most rare, paper.  

Lee's collectibles also include gold coins, trains, dishes, and antiques. 


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9.


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10. World Malaria Day

There is a global  effort to end the devastating disease called Malaria. Over 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk. April 25 has been set aside as a day to call the world to help prevent, diagnosis and treat Malaria.  A half a million lives are lost to this preventable disease each year.  The youngest children under age five are the most vulnerable.

Community health workers are put into place as caretakers  of children who have been infected.
'
"During the rainy season like March, malaria cases rise,"  Makono a health worker explains.
"I see 30 children every day and 20 out of the 30 have malaria."  The child is given a three day drug intervention to treat malaria which saves lives.

Makono is from Malawi, Africa. He starts seeing mothers and their children as early as 6:30 in the morning.  He is one of 2,105 health workers supported by the Presidents's Malaria initiative through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The good news about this disease is the reduction of deaths has declined dramatically because of the interventions in place.  Many are purchasing mosquito nets to help save lives.  Five million houses in thirteen countries have been sprayed with residual insecticide protecting over 18 million people.

As I enjoy spring in Texas I want to remember others who need our help.

Defeat Malaria





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11. Resurrection Power

The resurrection power of Jesus is given through the Holy Spirit by faith in Him.  It  flows through us as a river of life.



"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. " Romans 8:11.

"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. " Galatians 6:8

Jesus said,"I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in ME, though he  may die, he shall live. and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?"  John 11:25-26

Jesus said to him.  "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."  John 14:6


Leviticus 8:6  "Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water."

Leviticus 16:30  "because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you.  Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all of your sins."

John 3:5;  Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you,  no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.



Amos 5:24  "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

John 4:13-14  "Jesus said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.  The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."

Hebrews 10:22  "Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."


Happy Easter!!!

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12. Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey to celebrate the Passover.  Jesus is our Passover Lamb  Seven days later he died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.  When the Jews left the captivity from Egypt a plague came to take the first born son.  God instructed the Jews to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood on their doorpost in the shape of a cross.  The plague of death passed over the house that had the sacrificial blood of the lamb on it.

Blessed is HE that comes in the name of the Lord.  Children carry palm and olive branches to shout Hosanna on Palm Sunday morning.   As Jesus entered Jerusalem crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted

"Hosanna to the Son of David.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long awaited Messiah and King.  Jesus rides on a donkey as a symbol of peace as prophesized in Zechariah 9:9 in the Old Testament.  It was a custom for kings and nobles to ride on the back of a donkey to proclaim peaceful intentions.  Jesus did not come with a sword but with the miracle of peace.  The laying of palm branches showed a king was arriving in victory.  Jesus is victorious over our sins.  He has set us free.

Jesus suffered five Holy or Sacred Wounds during His Crucifixion.  
After Jesus died he appeared to over five hundred people.  
Doubting Thomas struggled with his faith  in John 20:25
Jesus disciples told Thomas;
"We have seen the Lord!"  But Thomas said to them;

" I won't believe it until I see the nail wounds in his hand and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side. "
Psalm from the Old Testament predicted Jesus's Piercing
Psalm 22:16
"Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet."

Mark 16;14
"Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen."

Jesus was merciful to Thomas and said,
John; 20 27
"Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  
STOP DOUBTING and BELIEVE."



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13. Saint Patrick and the Shamrock

As this week was full of festivities to celebrate the life of Saint Patrick its a good time to remember how he taught the people of Ireland about God.  He used something that is universal, the shamrock.  I know it grows in Texas and I'm pretty sure it grows all over the world.  It comes up each spring as a sign of life.  Saint Patrick used the Shamrock to show the trinity.  At the time Ireland were Druids who believed in many gods.  Saint Patrick picked up the green plant and held it in the air.
He said the Shamrock is one plant but has three parts. Just like God is one God but has three parts.  There is God the father, God the son Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit.  He explained God the father sits on the throne of grace.  Holy, holy holy is the Lord God almighty.  His son Jesus sits on the right hand side of his throne as the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  He paid the price for all the times humanity has sinned against God and broken the ten commandments.  The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our comforter and guide to truth.  The Spirit gives us the gift of faith.   


FATHER:
    • "Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy Name is from Everlasting" (Isaiah 63:16).
    • "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto Everlasting Life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:27).
SON:
    • "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
    • "27 My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: 28 and I give unto them Eternal Life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. 29 My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. 30 I and My Father are One. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me? 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; 36 say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"(John 10:27-36)
SPIRIT:
    • "And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2).
    • "7 Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10).



Saint Patrick wrote notes about the Trinity in his autobiography called the Confession.  






hus in his Confession, he records an ancient Irish creed of faith in the Trinity:
“[T]here is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught; and His son Jesus Christ, whom we declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning; and by Him are made all things visible and invisible. He was made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father; and He has given Him all power over all names in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, an whose advent we expect soon to be, judge of the living and of the dead, who will render to every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name” (Confession of St. Patrick 4 [A.D. 452]).

I took a picture of this beautiful stain glass window in a little country church in Ireland. Patrick started three hundred churches.  He was a true missionary of his faith and relied on the Holy Spirit to not be afraid even when there were many attempts on his life.  He relied on the Holy Spirit to give him wisdom as he preached to the Irish people.  Saint Patrick was only one life but influenced many.  He was a lesson in forgiveness and faith.  

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14. Valentines Day Memories

I explained to  my second grade students we might have a special visitor today.  My husband usually brings me pink roses on Valentines Day to my classroom.  Sure enough, right after the spelling test I heard.

"Ms. Kent, there  is someone  in the room for you."  I glanced to the door and there he was holding a dozen pink roses in a  beautiful striped vase.

I gave him a big hug and said, "Thank you. that's so sweet of you."

"Okay students do you have any questions you want to ask my husband?" I questioned.

"How many years have you been married?"  a student asked.

Jim said,  "Let's do the math.  If we got married in 1988 and its 2015 how many years is that?"  Two eager students went up to the board and started subtracting.  

"It's twenty-seven years,"  a  student called out.


"How old were you when you got married?"

 He answered "mmmmmm thirty ........I said," Five."  I knew that quickly because he is four years older than me.

" Do you have any children?"

"Yes two in graduate school." he answered proudly.


"Okay let me ask you some questions.  What country do we live in? " he wondered what they would say..

Some students said, "Texas."

In a child's scope of things Texas does seem like a country full of Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Longhorn Cattle, and  Texas Pride.

Finally a child shouted out,  "The United States of America." I was relieved they knew the answer.

It's was so fun having Jim see the students I so love and talk about.  He was impressed everyone wanted to answer questions.






Later we had our Valentine's Party and the students exchanged their cards.  I remembered when I was in second grade and read each Valentine  with care.  Valentines Day exposes the treasures of our hearts.  It's nice to know my husband is thoughtful enough to come to my school and give me beautiful pink roses.




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15. Momma Duck is Back But Daddy Duck is Missing


     Usually in  early February or March Momma and Daddy Duck come to our backyard pool to prepare a nest for their ducklings.  This year Momma Duck returned the first week in February but Daddy Duck was missing.  Yes there's a picture of a male duck but I know its not Daddy Duck.

    It brings back a memory in October when Momma Duck comes to our pool and honks loudly.  She is flapping her wings hysterically  but there is not a Daddy Duck.  I had a thought that she was mourning her partner for over twenty years.  He had a limp last summer and looked weak.  It was very unusual for ducks to be there in the fall and she only came for one day.  Momma came to the place where they raised their ducklings to mourn his loss.


     I think I had seen Momma Duck's new friend in a group of ducks.  As I gazed outside our window I ventured outside to get a closer look.  The male duck seemed a little startled but let me take pictures.  Momma Duck was use to me taking pictures and went right on swimming.  Her neck turned toward my direction as if to say hello.  Did Momma Duck tell him about the place where she raised her ducklings?  They glided through the water in rhythm together from one end of the pool to the other side.
     Their heads started moving back and forth and I knew it was a sign they were about to fly away.  Did Momma Duck want us to see her new friend?  I hope they come back.  I'll be looking for a new nest.

    Will the nest be in the same place below the angel statue hidden among the grasses?
I'm glad Momma Duck found a new companion.  She is less lonely now that she has someone to share a life with.  She'll always remember Daddy Duck.  I miss him and think she does too.

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16. Malcolm Butler's Vision

            Malcolm Butler caught the interception to win the game for the Patriots in the 2015 Superbowl.  In the interview afterwards he told the world he had a vision he was going to make a great play.  It caught my attention because he seemed humble, and amazed God fulfilled the promise and together they made a great team.  He was asking for God's direction. He knew he would do something special because he had prayed on it.

             There is a scripture in the Bible we must cling to, rely upon and have faith in Jesus.  It builds faith to see a Super Bowl Champion give glory to God.  He knew in his heart of hearts God was there for him.  Earlier in the game he had made a play he felt disappointed in.  Sometimes God humbles us before he gives us victory so the glory goes to Him.


              In interviews people kept asking him what was going on in his mind.  But I ask the question, "What was going on in his heart?"  He said he just wanted to make up for his mistake and help his team win.  He didn't give up or get discouraged. He didn't complain.   He kept his goal in mind with the promise God gave him to keep striving.  What a great living parable.  Perhaps angels were on the Superbowl field this year.


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17. Fort Worth Stock Show Traditions

I grew up with the Fort Worth Stock Show because my dad always had rodeo tickets and it was a family affair to view the pageantry.  He had adjoining seats with his dairy farm friend from Oklahoma. They knew each other from high school and dad stayed in touch each year at the rodeo.




 We knew where our milk came from because we visited his dairy farm and saw the hard work it was each day to care for his cows.  My dad's friend rarely had a vacation because his cows did not go hungry.  The farm had been passed down from his father and he was willing to carry the tradition.  So as I gaze each contestant holding the reins of their prized cow I remember the dedication my dad's friend showed  to his Dairy Farm.
I see the same heritage as this boy holds the head of his prized cow high hoping the judge will give him a ribbon.  The cow is willing to follow because he is cared for and had love to his owners.  
The boy feels satisfied because his hard work is rewarded.  His dad watches with pride because he knows his farm is a family tradition.  His dad taught him how to handle a calf.  He is following his fathers footsteps of making a living for his family with devotion to his animals.

As a consumer we owe our chicken at the dinner table to the growers who chose to make farming their livelihood.  I see cages of hopeful farmers who want a prize for their beloved rooster.
 Many varieties of farm animals are in display at the Fort Worth Stock Show.  Growers are competing with other farmers who carry the traditions of their family.
Children display their artwork of creative interpretations of what it is like to live on a farm.  Their heart of love for the animals they take care for is exploding with color on the wall of art.
Precision is desired as their sheep needs a trim.  
It brings imaginations of Wilbur in the beloved novel Charoletes Web as Fern wins a prize for the pig she saved.  
Each animal is loved through taking a bath. Agriculture the world over is appreciated as farmers provide food for our tables.  
Murals show culture of the many families it takes for the Fort Worth Stock Show to exist.  

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18. Times Square New Years Eve 2015 A Community of Talent in NYC

Times Square New Years Eve became the crossroads of the world to ring in 2015.  Hundreds of Thousands of revelers jammed the streets to celebrate a new year.
 It took a community of talent to make sure the evening was safe and entertainers could display their creativity.  News crew lined up to get their spot in covering the world's most watched event as the New Year's Eve Ball descended the flagpole at midnight. The tradition began in 1906 and New York City carried on the ceremony in style.

Cranes were lined in a straight row eager to help put on the show.

It started twelve hours before the ball dropped when revelers were checked for explosives and other dangerous devices as they entered pens on Broadway and Seventh Ave.

New York Police Department's goal was to make sure everyone was safe.  Security in Times Square was heightened because of the potential terrorist threat.   Police officers remembered the attack on the Boston Marathon and did everything to prevent another tragedy.  Deputy Commissioner John McCarthy said,  " We will have our counter-terrorism overlay in place, including helicopters."
There were no trash cans along the route and backpacks were prohibited.  

Stage crews checked the sound so Taylor Swift and other performers gave their best music.  Microphones were put in place as news media gave their own interpretation of the events.  Anderson Cooper, my favorite, and Kathy Griffin hosted for eight consecutive years.  Carson Daly featured Tony Bennet, Lady Gaga, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell.
As more people came to get their place in line anticipation grew.  
Starting at 6:00 entertainment took the stage.  The giant switch was turned on as the New Year's Eve Ball raised high above majestic New York City.  The ball was designed by Waterford Crystal with 2,688 crystal triangles shining their glory in a 12 foot geodesic sphere.  The original ball was only a one hundred and 25-watt bulb.  It shows the advancement of technology over the years.  
It was a display of talent as each performer gave their best tune in frigid temperatures of 30 degrees.  Colorful pyrotechnic devices shown beams of color along with the beat of melody.   

  Taylor Swift was the grand finally as she danced on stage as her body shook with cold.  


She gave her best effort along with the NYPD, news media, stage crew, party goers willing to stand in freezing temperatures for twelve hours, and workers of New York City.  




My family and I watched from our hotel room along with millions of people from their homes the display of community talent.  
The next day the light shown on a new year in 2015.  Memories were made and families were entertained as Times Square put on a great show for another year.  
On New Years Day the streets were full of people taking pictures with Micky Mouse.
Looking at display windows showing fashions for 2015.
Spending time with family and friends.  
Buying from local street vendors creative displays of art revealing New York life.  

Sampling delicious hot food at a great price.
Taking their son or daughter on a ride on the Merry Go Round in Bryant Park.
Taking a selfie in front of the Apple Store.
Celebrating books at Simon and Schuster.

Eating after a long New Years Day at a favorite NYC restaurant.

Perhaps the greatest community of talent lives and works in the best city in the world. 
New York City.

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19. A Mothers Story Ducks In My Pool

Read a Mothers Story called Ducks In My Pool


Available at Barnes and Nobel Nook








http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ducks-in-my-pool-sandra-kent/1114910821?ean=2940016304786

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20. Happy 238th Birthday USA

Happy 238th Birthday USA

Our country was founded on divine intervention from people who sought God's will and wanted a better life for their families.

Pilgrims

A group of people fled England to the Netherlands for religious freedom.  They were called separatists because their views didn't agree with the Church of England.  It was illegal not to attend the official Church of England and the punishment was prison.  They lived in Holland for several years but felt they were loosing their cultural identity and language.  So the leaders came up with a plan of going to America where they could have their own land, laws, and freedom.  In 1620 one hundred and twenty one men, women and children of faith in a better life stepped upon the Mayflower and Speedwell on a voyage to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  The Speedwell wasn't so speedy and the main beam caused it to crack but they didn't give up.  They sailed on with the Mayflower to the new land.

Land was sighted  on November 9, 1620 after sixty-five days on crowded ships.  Psalm 100 was read as a prayer of Thanksgiving.

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!  Serve the Lord with gladness.  Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God;  It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving.  And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good.  His mercy is everlasting.  And His truth endures to all generations.

The Mayflower Compact was created for the general good of the Colony.  It organized them into a body of choice and  was ratified by a majority rule.  John Carver was elected as the first governor to lead the people of the new land.   The Mayflower Compact is known for the seed of democracy and called the first written constitution.

During the cold winter the women laid on top of their children to keep them warm in the night.  Many of the women died but the children lived because of their sacrifice..  Men quickly tried to build shelter.  Half of the pilgrims died the first winter.  But they believed in the call to a land of freedom where they don't have to go to prison for worshiping the way they choose.   Spring came and Squanto and other Indians helped them plant with fish so their crops can grow.  The colony survived and we know it now as Massachusetts.

George Washington

George Washington felt called of God.  In fact the Indians saw he had a profound destiny because their weapons somehow did not kill him.  He traveled ten miles to attend church.  He had private devotions in his library both morning and evening.  A nephew of Washington found him kneeling with an open Bible before him.

Washington's leadership  helped to win the war of Independence from England but after the war he encouraged Americans to believe by quoting

.....the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
The faith of our founding fathers gave us favor with God.  People are still wanting to come to America for freedom and hope of a better life.  Let us not take for granted we live in the best country in the world.  Happy Birthday USA.  

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21. Chillon Castle in Montreux, Switzerland

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22. Medieval Town of Yvoire

The medieval town of Yvoire is one of the most beautiful fishing villages of France located 28 km from Geneva.  It is facing the crystal blue waters of  Lake Geneva or the French call it Lac Leman.
The streets are filled with artists and craftsmen of the Chablais region.
I discovered this adorable antique shop and found an oil painting for my collection
Hanging baskets full of fresh flowers are at every street corner
This walled fishing port dates back to the 14th century.

A french 14th century castle is fun to explore. It was built between 1306 and 1311 by Amadeus V, a famous count of Savoy.  He must have been part of the Savoy family who ruled the Chillon Castle.  It was protected by a moat and a drawbridge. The gardens surrounding the castle are beautiful.display of colorful flowers.
 My favorite place was the church of Saint Pancras.  It dates back from the eleventh century when it was much smaller.  I felt a strong peace as I entered this sacred space built for a fourteen year old martyr who died for his faith in 303,   As a Roman citizen he was asked to perform a sacrifice to the Romans gods.  Diocletian, the emperor of Rome was impressed with the boy's determination to resist so tempted him with wealth and power.  He chose courage and was beheaded for standing up for his savior on May 12th 303 A. D. Pancras is one of the patron saints of children.  He represents innocence and faith in childhood.  His name is from ancient greek and mean "the most powerful."
As I sat in the pew I reflected on my surroundings. 
At the alter was a beautiful painting of Jesus walking on the water.
The story is from Matthew 14:22-33.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, waking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 
ButJesus immediately said to them; "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said
Then Peter got down out of the boat, waked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 
"Lord save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  
"You of little faith," he said,
"Why did you doubt?"
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those sho were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the 

Son of God."
Bridging the Gap as a sacrificial lamb for our sins.
On the ceiling is a parable of Jesus.
Mary with her carpenter son.
Beautiful stain glass tell a story of peace and forgiveness.
The steeple shined like a bright light.

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23. Visiting Nimes France

Nimes was a Roman outpost in Provence because soldiers were promised a plot of land if they fought for Caesar. The remains of what it was like to live during Roman times makes Nimes a fascinating visit for history buffs.  Think of a retirement home for hard working soldiers who want to settle down and live peacefully.  The city's emblem is a crocodile tied to a palm tree as a reminder to Roman officers of their journeys to Egypt.


Enter the door of the only ancient temple to be completely preserved, the Maison Carree built during the period of Emperor Augustus.  He created new sites for staging of special events.
By the time Caesar had arrived the south east of Gaul had been settled by the Romans.  They came to aid the Greek colony of Marseilles because of attacks from Celto-Ligurian tribes.  Under Emperor Augustus the city developed quickly.building monuments.  Maison carree was inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars Ultor in Rome.  It was built with harmonious proportions of 26 meters long,15 meters wide, and 15 meters high.  A 22 minute 3 D film is shown to tell the history of Nimes through a Roman family.  The dad went off to war for fifteen years and came back to see his son grown up but the town prosperous.  

The ceiling of the entrance to the temple was added in the 19th century.  

The Arena of Nimes was built 70 AD but remodeled in 1863 for bull fights. The amphitheater  has the capacity to seat 24,000 spectators.  There are sixty arches on each of the two levels for Romans to enter as they find their seat.  
In the Middle Ages people actually lived in the amphitheater for protection after the fall of Rome.
It was built to last standing sixty-five feet high and more than 300 feet across.  Compare it to a six story high building.
  Romans sat according to their social status and watch the games played there.  This box seems like a place of honor.   Lions, tigers and even elephants were part of animal hunts.   Executions would also be held and people sentenced to death were thrown to the lions.  Christians who stayed loyal to their faith and  refused to worship Roman gods were sentenced.  
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The ancient Roman aqueduct bridge called Pont du Gard is another Roman attraction to see.  It is part of the Nimes aqueduct carrying 31 miles of water to Romans from a spring at Uzes.  
It was mainly built underground because of the hilly terrain.  The water traveled a long and winding route that crossed the gorge of the Gardon river.  Pont du Gard is the highest of all of the Roman aqueduct bridges and one of the best preserved.  
Nimes has preserved many places to visit for tourists to enjoy.  
Sample delicious fresh
bread made by the locals.  Stay at a quaint bed and breakfast close by to be pampered after a day of sight seeing.  

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24. Savour the Sights of Saint Remy de Provence

Travel tree lined roads to one of the oldest towns in France, Saint Remy, located at the western edge of the Provence region.  It embraces scrumptous food, rich history, ancient buildings and an amazing market day.

Enter the town through narrow streets to find small boutiques with the finest clothes. 
Enjoy delicious French Food at Lou Grilladou. Offering Provencal pizza, grilled meats, and salads.   He can serve group meals up to 70 people.  

 The salmon is fresh with the perfect sauce.  
Stay upstairs above the restaurant to relax in fluffy sheets.  
Lou's wife decorated the room with shades of gray using textured fabric.
Every detail added to the flavor of the room.  
After being refreshed continue exploring all the charm of the Provencal way of life.  

Enjoy your surroundings with water dripping from stone fountains.
Walk the streets to smell the fragrance of lavender freshly cut from local hills of purple.
Pick a place to stay in the heart of Saint Remy so waking up for market day every Wednesday morning will be easy.
Relax in a Jacuzzi after a long day of shopping.  
 Look out the window from the  bed and breakfast to see a town filled with history.  Van Gogh produced a 150 paintings while resting in the local asylum for the year of 1889 in Monastere St. Paul de Mausole.  It is open to the public seven days a week.
Starry Night is one of his famous paintings from Saint Remy along with Wheatfield and Irises.   Follow the trail around the surrounding countryside which covers the key locations of his work.  
There are more than a hundred artists living in the area of Saint Remy wanting to capture the beauty of Provence.  

The area is famous for their colorful clay pottery which makes a great treasure to take home.  
Visit the modest home of Nostradamos, famous for his predictions. 
Market Day is every Wednesday morning open till 1:00.  View displays of French Fabric and table clothes to adorn your table.  
Sample fresh fruit picked from local orchards.  
Shimmering necklaces, bracelets and earrings can be a treasure.
Carpenters display French ladder back chairs made locally.
Scented bags of fresh lavender can be purchased for only one euro.
Saint Remy's Market is one of the largest of Provence and well worth the visit.  
Walk the streets of Saint Remy first built in the 1st century AD  
Sit outside and sip a cup of coffee in sunny cafes.  
You'll find a warm, friendly welcome in this charming little town.

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25. Bethlehem Revisited a Waxahachie Tradition


Step back in time 2000 years ago to visit the town of Bethlehem as Mary and Joseph did the night of Christ's birth.  After a long journey to pay their taxes they found no room to lay their head.  The inns were full of other travelers.  As predicted in ancient writings in Micah 5:2 of the Hebrew Old Testament the Messiah was born in Bethlehem in a manger perhaps with fresh rosemary to make it comfortable and keep fleas away.  Magi from Persia who studied the stars arrived on camels to see our Savior predicted to be born in Bethlehem, meaning the house of bread. Numbers 24:17 says a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.

The town of Waxahachie opens their town the first two weekends of December to crowds of over 6,000.  Families walk through the streets of the Roman village to see merchants selling their wears.  Weavers turn sheep and goat yarn to textiles, soap is made by hand, pottery is spun with hands molding wet clay, and baskets are shaped from strips of wood.

A living nativity pageant is performed with live characters wanting to share the story of Jesus's birth.  After paying their taxes Mary and Joseph go to many innkeepers to be turned away.  Many actors and their children have returned to play parts since 1995 when Vic Dindot, a former minister of Central Presbyterian Church came up with the idea.   It takes 200 volunteers to put everything together for visitors to enjoy.

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