Going Home and Making Memories Celebrating Mom’s 80th Birthday!

After kick starting the week by diving headfirst into my courses as I begin my final semester of graduate work at Amberton University, I reflected on the extended weekend celebration of my Mom’s 80th birthday. What a tremendous time honoring a life well-lived!

My Sweet T and I surprised Mom at Thursday night’s Spring Event at the Marshall Arts Center. If you’ve not been to Marshall lately, you’ll be surprised to discover the thriving arts scene that continues to blossom thanks in large part to the efforts of the Arts Center and local artists helping get the word out about the work they are doing.

After the Art Show, we popped over to Pietro’s, a new Italian restaurant located on Austin Street in Historic Downtown Marshall.  Superb food and excellent service topped off a great evening out on the town. During our time in my old hometown, we were excited to find a vibrant Downtown area bustling with people and activity–a site long overdue in this historic East Texas community.

We spent Saturday afternoon partying it up at the Dinner Belle on Grand Avenue. The home-cooking dished out by owner April Ridgeway-Hamblen and crew has totally transformed a building that was once  home of the local Dairy Queen. The service is down-to-earth humble and friendly and the food is tasty and reminds you of Southern home cooking once served at the family dinner table.

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After our time with friends at the Dinner Belle, we capped Saturday night off with a visit to Second Saturday and a tour of the old timey cars and local shops. Several shops were open to the public, showcasing their wares ranging from original items to antiques. Again, we were happy to see the life filling the streets of Downtown Marshall.

Sunday morning, we went to church at Summit Methodist–Mom’s home church for almost ten years now. I had the honor of teaching Sunday School that morning, which is always a privilege and joyous experience. We explored how God’s Word teaches us how to pray through an examination of the Apostle Paul’s prayerful words in Ephesians 1:16-19.

Through it all, Mom had a big, happy grin on her face. Her friends shared stories of how they met or funny anecdotes involving my Mom or one another. My Mom has done remarkably well since my Dad passed nearly 10 years ago. A big part of that success is due to her faith and her art,  her friends, and her church family. The little girl who fled Danzig, Germany during World War II as a war refugee has come a long way.

The next time you’re out in East Texas, stop in Marshall and checkout the little town that is thriving. Having grown up there, it’s great to see the signs of revitalization taking place in my old hometown.

East Texas Memories





Why Do I Pray “In Jesus’ Name” ?

Have you ever wondered why Christians pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Awhile back, a friend of mine and I attended a luncheon bringing together people from different faiths to explore working together for the greater good of the community. The spacious banquet room was filled with about sixty representatives from every faith you could imagine. Naturally, the Big 3 (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) were scattered around different tables. Catholics sat next to Protestants, who came in full-force, hailing from different denominations. Methodists sat next to Baptists, Baptists sat next to Presbyterians. You get the picture.

All in all, it was a pretty cool scene. Once it became time to start, an event organizer opened the meeting with a prayer, ending his prayer in what I consider to be the traditional “in Jesus’ name.” This quickly drew the ire of a Rabbi attending the meeting, who happened to be sitting at our table. He expressed his preference that we forego ending prayer in the name of Jesus as he found it deeply offensive. He pointed to an Imam who sat one table away from us and explained that ending prayer in this manner was disrespectful of his faith as well. The Rabbi pointed out that not everyone believes in Jesus and praying to him is blasphemous in the traditions of some faiths. Needless to say, my friend and I, who are both Christians, were taken aback by the Rabbi’s request. Neither of us had ever considered not praying in Jesus’ name. Had we ever ended a prayer without closing it that way? Yes. Could we not pray that way? Well…NO.

While we did not expect the Rabbi or the Imam or any non-Christian to pray in the name of Jesus, being told that we as Christians could not do so was completely a different story. Thankfully, when push came to shove, the agreement was reached that each person would pray according to their faith traditions while respecting the manner of prayer of others in the room. Whew!

praying hands TDG

As a Christian, have you ever wondered why you pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Often, we use phrases in a religious, ritualistic manner without understanding why we do what we do. This is certainly true of praying in the name of Christ. So why do we do it? As believers, the Scriptures serves as our go-to source for biblical insight and faith. So what exactly does the Bible say about praying “in Jesus’ name”?

The Devotional Guy_sharing Gospel

Let us take a look at a few verses:

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He follows that up in verse 13 saying, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” And finally, in John 16:23-24, Jesus shares, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul points out that through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have “boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12). The writer of Hebrews states, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaves, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Why Do I Pray

These verses reveal the biblical foundation for praying ‘in Jesus’ name’.

As broken and fallen people, we can only access God through faith in Christ because Jesus died in our place and took our sin upon Himself, bearing the penalty and paying the debt for our sins. Through the atoning work of  Jesus we gain access to God. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life through whom we can connect to the Lord. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted into the Kingdom and become children of God. Jesus has made all things new and brought life where once there was only death.

John 1624

Jesus is our advocate. In anticipation of his death on the Cross, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to God, the Father, in His name. Our faith in Christ opens the door to a personal relationship with God. It is our relationship with Jesus that gives us the privilege of not only entering into God’s presence through prayer, but the assurance of our prayers being heard. He makes it possible for us to have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

This then, is why we, as Christians should pray. “In Jesus’ Name”.


May the Lord fill your life with abundant blessings.



This Is What Happens When You Reminisce About Good Times Past

Thankfully, Sweet T and I are at the age where we can look back and joyfully recall our childhood memories while commenting about how much times have changed since way back when. So it’s not unusual for me to find myself reminiscing about good times past.

Sweet T and I dig kicking back and binging on Netflix and we love watching movies. We talk a lot about current events and what’s going on in the world. Thanks to my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Williams (shout out to J.H. Moore Elementary!), I’m a bit of a news junkie. She urged all of her students to make a habit of reading the paper and watching the evening news (which was way more limited than it is today). Thankfully, T appreciates my news habit and indulges my penchant for docu-dramas. (FYI, if you haven’t watched it yet, check out Cuba Gooding Jr. portraying O.J. Simpson in ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’).


Growing up in the Ark-La-Tex, I remember that we only had three channels, not counting PBS. The national news came on at 5:30 p.m., followed by the local news at 6. Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner were among the nightly staples, along with the local news pros like Al Pierce, Liz Swaine,  Al Bolton, and Bob Griffin. And who can forget the legendary Bill Moyers? Credibility and accuracy in reporting seemed to be more valued back then. Getting it right mattered.

The pressure of today’s 24-7-365 competitive information jungle has elevated being first above getting it right. As one of my old RTV professors observed back in the 80s–“It’s about ratings.” Ratings drive advertising. Advertising drives revenues. Viewers drive both. If we don’t watch, ratings decline, advertisers bail. That’s the case even more today than back then. But regardless of the age you live in, truth and accuracy matter.

A Clip from Bill Moyers ‘Growing Up in Marshall, Texas’

As a kid, there were a number of shows that were mainstays like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, ‘The Rifleman‘, and ‘Bonanza’. The stories were not only entertaining but also taught life lessons. In those days, the good guys still won and people understood the difference between right and wrong. I find the best stories entertain and edify us.

Conjunction Junction

If you’re anywhere near my age, you’ll remember ABC’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ The animated short made learning reading, writing, arithmetic, and science fun. The program, on-air originally from 1973-1985 and revived in the 90s for a second tour of duty, celebrates the 45th anniversary of its debut this year. The toe-tapping, sing-a-long taught us civics, history and much more. I can’t help but think it’s definitely a show whose multi-faceted lessons we seem to be missing today.

Energy Blues

Along my journey, I’ve learned that faith and science are not mortal opposites, but complement each other. I can be a person of faith and reason simultaneously.  Learning math, science, and how to read and write is critical to living excellently. Growing in our understanding of the Word of God helps us maneuver the trials and trails of life. To me, it’s more of a both/and rather than either/or. The wonders of science cause me to marvel at the work of God, not question it.

Keeping up with what’s going in the world is important. At the same time, having faith—believing in something greater than ourselves— is critical. Without hope, we remain lost.

Over the centuries, storytelling has served our civilization well. Stories teach, explore, and illuminate the world around us—present, past, and future. Once upon a time, people relied on oral storytelling, verbally handing down history and sharing current events. In our modern 21st century, we have more means to communicate at our disposal than ever before in history. Yet, at times, we talk right past each other.

I hope we remember to use these tools to tell stories that are important and pass along valuable lessons as a new generation comes of age. Stories teach us about who we were, who we are, and who we can be. Good stories teach us while making us laugh, cheer, scream, and cry. It’s why God gave them to us. And God should know. After all, when it comes to crafting a story, no one is better than the Lord.


What’s your story? Tell it.

You can catch more of episodes of ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ here.