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If you know the McKays, have them give me a call

December 29, 2015
If you know the McKays, have them give me a call
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This was going to be a doozy of a Christmas present, I figured.
And, it ended up being just that – but not how I planned.
I worked for weeks – scores of man hours – preparing a photobook of pictures the Bride took during our 40th anniversary trip to Hawaii in October.
I came upon a company that creates books that open and lay flat. They’re big – 14×11 inches.
So that inspired me to seek out all the wonderful panoramic shots she took of the incredible Hawaiian vistas and assemble them into a big book that would open up huge and highlight her skills and that memorable scenery.… Read the rest

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God wants to talk WITH you

December 29, 2015
God wants to talk WITH you
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My devotional time each morning has a certain flow. I am a part of a private Facebook Bible reading group who reads a chapter a day and posts thoughts to the group page. I begin there.
Then I move to the daily reading in whatever devotional book I have chosen for the year. In 2015, it was Hearing God through the Year by Dallas Willard. My plan for 2016 is to read a variety of books on spiritual formation, a chapter a day. I’m going to begin with Richard Foster’s classic Celebration of Discipline.
Finally, I read from a book of daily devotional and Scripture readings based on great hymns of the faith.… Read the rest

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Comanches kidnapped children on early Texas frontier

December 29, 2015
Comanches kidnapped children on early Texas frontier
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A couple of columns back, the one on Samuel and Mary Ann Maverick and origin of the word “maverick” in our vocabulary, I mentioned ordering Mary Ann’s memoirs from Amazon. It came.
Her account of the Comanches, Matilda Lockhart and the Putman children touched my heart. The Lockhart family arrived in Texas in 1828 from Illinois and settled near present day Gonzales. Matilda was the daughter of Captain Andrew Lockhart and niece of Byrd Lockhart. The latter was at the Alamo, and the town of Lockhart is named for him.
Matilda and her mother were visiting a neighboring family, the Mitchell Putmans, on the afternoon of Dec.… Read the rest

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New ‘open carry’ legislation takes effect on Jan. 1

December 29, 2015
New ‘open carry’ legislation takes effect on Jan. 1

The coming of the 2016 brings heightened interest statewide in two new laws in particular that were passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in June 2015.
The first is HB 910, a law conditionally allowing the “open carry” of handguns in public places. It will take effect on Jan. 1.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the law “authorizes individuals to obtain a license to openly carry a handgun in the same places that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed handgun with some exceptions.”
Furthermore: “Unconcealed handguns, loaded or unloaded, must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster” and “Individuals who hold a valid concealed handgun license may continue to carry with valid existing license.” A separate license will not be required to open carry and no additional fee will be required, the DPS stated.… Read the rest

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Back again: The dreaded annual Christmas letter

December 22, 2015
Back again: The dreaded annual Christmas letter

As the art of sending Christmas cards fades, perhaps one day the self-serving Christmas letter will, too.
But not this year.
January – The new year dawned with ice on the ground. It was a foreshadowing of the wacky weather we’d have in 2015.
Looking for some wintertime tropical relief, we ventured to Galveston for an annual press convention. For every minute we were there, it rained sideways in a 40-degree gale.
February – Mark just could not sleep most of the month; he saw several Sea Hunts at 3 a.m. (They don’t stand the test of time well.)
The Bride got pneumonia for Valentine’s Day.… Read the rest

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Keeping Christmas in Christ

December 22, 2015
Keeping Christmas in Christ

No, the title is not a typo. I didn’t get the words out of order. In fact, I will suggest that this perspective may be the key to reclaiming Christmas. I realize that’s a bold statement, but stick with me.
In an article by Donald Heinz, Professor of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico, two statements really stand out:
1. “Getting Christmas right means getting ourselves right and ultimately getting God right.”
2. “The renewal of Christmas will not come about through nostalgic returns to a past time of Christian predominance or through prohibitionist scolding, but through an active imagination that makes everything captive and obedient to Christ.”
This is really what I have been trying to communicate over the past few weeks in my thoughts on “Happy Holidays” and Christmas slogans.… Read the rest

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1846: An unpleasant Christmas for soldiers

December 22, 2015
1846: An unpleasant Christmas for soldiers

Readers may remember a column about Henry L. Ford (no relation to the automaker) who served as a lieutenant in California under John C. Fremont when California was breaking away from Mexico. In the book about him by Fred B. Rogers was an excerpt written by one of the other soldiers, Edward C. Kemble, whose account of the troops at Christmastime 1846 was included in the book, Bear Flag Lieutenant.
Soldiers in wartime never have things easy, but the Christmas that Kemble described was especially bleak. The men woke up on Christmas Eve in good spirits and anticipated a clear day.… Read the rest

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Governor takes action to stem illegal border crossings

December 22, 2015
Governor takes action to stem illegal border crossings

Quoting U.S. Border Patrol data regarding illegal border crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 15 said the number of apprehensions through October and November “are on average two to three times higher than last year.”
Abbott added that in the Big Bend sector, unaccompanied minor arrivals for that period has increased almost tenfold. In the Rio Grande sector, it doubled from 3,219 to 6,465.
“Texas will not sit idle in the face of this challenge,” Abbott said. “We will not be victimized as a state by a federal government’s apathetic response to border security.”
To respond to the problem, Abbott said he plans to:
• Extend the deployment of National Guard troops at strategic locations on the border;
• Instruct the Texas Department of Public Safety to coordinate with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to increase the number of boats and tactical officers at strategic locations on the Rio Grande River;
• Instruct the DPS to increase aerial observation missions to aid interdiction efforts;
• Award grants to support the Border Prosecution Unit;
• Provide grants to Ellis and Rockwall counties to aid their efforts to respond to the unexpected relocation of unaccompanied minors to their counties.… Read the rest

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A bird in the house is way more than 2 in the bush

December 16, 2015
A bird in the house is way more than 2 in the bush

Historically, we have had many critters stop by our house then decide to come inside uninvited.
It’s part of the joy of living in the country. Not once in our Hurst home did I find a snake in the dishwasher.
In our country abode, it’s happened twice.
We have scorpions, ants, and more kinds of spiders than you can count wandering past while watching Castle.
It’s part of the landscape. Raccoons live in our wood burning stove when we’re not burning wood in it. Wild pigs mosey past – turkeys, too – and coyotes howl every night.
Those guys, however, stay outside.… Read the rest

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Mary Ann Maverick, husband Sam were early Texas pioneers

December 16, 2015
Mary Ann Maverick, husband Sam were early Texas pioneers

Many Texans may be aware of the story about Samuel Maverick, early Texan. The story goes that either he was lazy and didn’t brand his year-old steers or was just slow in doing it. When other ranchers saw the unbranded calves, they said, “Oh, those are Maverick’s” Soon, any year-old calf wandering around unbranded was called a “maverick.” Any loner, someone who struck out on his own in the West, or was stubbornly independent was called a maverick too.
Recently I found a book about women in the West, and one of the chapters was about Mary Ann Adams who became Mrs.… Read the rest

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