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.

DSC00018 (2)

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

 

 

 

 

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’).

vintage-tv-1116587_1920

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.

josef-2943916_1920

What’s your story? Tell it.

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