Archive | January, 2014

Tuesday Testimony: “Jumping Into God’sDream”

21 Jan

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Chaplain Jim has again shared a poignant message during this week celebrating the life, works, and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This time reminds us that we should all have a dream, not only for ourselves, but for our children and posterity. Sometimes we are so concerned about ourselves, the “It’s all about me” world that we live in, that we forget that everyone has a dream. How can we share our dreams with others? How can we help other people make their dreams come true? How many consecutive questions can I ask before you get really annoyed with me? One more? Will you take a few minutes to read what Chaplain Jim has shared about God’s big dream? I think HE has a big dream for us, BUT we have to see it in order to make it come true. (Thanks Chaplain Jim)
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I Have a Dream…

I’m inspired every year in January with whatever commemoration I’m involved in concerning Martin Luther King, Jr. Most years I make sure I make the time to watch or listen again to his “I have a dream” speech– the whole of which is only 11 minutes, and easy to find these days on line. But as inspiring as those words and their delivery are, I was reminded this year that it’s not just MLK who had a Big Dream. And knowing his background as a pastor, it’s pretty safe to say that his Big Dream for civil rights grew directly out of GOD’s Big Dream. So before MLK’s 11 minute speech, you could say that all of holy history is God’s “I have a dream” speech.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the beginning of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” God spoke, and creation was born. God spoke, and the Word became flesh and walked among us. And God’s dream is that we be adopted into His life, and that we become a part of the Body of Christ in the world today.

When I was watching his speech this time, I started wondering about some of the people in the background, and especially the children caught on camera, either splashing in the reflecting pond, or on their parents’ shoulders. How would that one experience transform their lives? What we get our kids involved in when they’re young, what we help them get excited about, especially if it is something ongoing– like the civil rights movement, or in a more simple way, like being involved at the church– can dramatically impact them for a lifetime, and across generations.

My mom was at a church camp in FL the first year it opened in 1948, and every summer after that until she spent a summer as a camp counselor there. I started going to that same church camp when I was in 4th grade, went every year after that with three summers and a camp counselor. I met another camp counselor and had what I thought was a “summer fling” with her. Now thirty years later, both our kids have been active in church camps for years, being camp jr. counselors, now doing and supporting Chrysalis camp weekends.

How are you getting your kids excited about GOD’s Big Dream? Lots of groups and marketers would love to get your kids involved in THEIR dream, or even in what might seem like a big dream by earthly dimensions, and those CAN be very good dreams. But how are you helping your kids and the kids you teach to make time and energy not only for “good dreams,” but for GOD’s Dream? And how are you helping them to not only be spectators, testing the water with their toes, but to throw themselves completely into God’s Dream?

It’s great to be inspired by those powerful words, “I have a dream,” but how much more powerful if it’s more than a passing dream, but God’s Eternal Dream? And how much more powerful to help the Little Ones you touch to not only HEAR the dream, but to LIVE the Dream?

Jumping into GOD’s Dream–

Rev. Jim

Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
Brigade Chaplain
DSN: (318) 430-4106
Cell phone: 9978.7664
NIPR: james.r.lewis1.mil@mail.mil
SIPR: james.r.lewis1@swa.army.smil.mil

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Here is my dream…OUT LOUD…
I am going to become a famous author, and many people will read my books, stories and poems. I also dream of being a famous artist, where many people want to own my paintings, prints and hand painted items. WAIT A MINUTE!!!! WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!……… I’ve had over 12,000 hits on my blog, hundreds of people have read my stories and poems, many of you out there have my artwork, prints, hand painted ornaments, vases, and wine glasses. I don’t have to say my dream out loud… I AM ALREADY LIVING MY DREAM!!! You are all a part of it. Now go live YOUR dream, my friend!

Montage Monday: Family

21 Jan

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
-Desmond Tutu
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I am blessed with many gifts from God, and my family is the greatest blessing. Being able to spend so much time with my mom, my sons and my sister has been wonderful. Seeing old friends is another gift. They are just like family. Forget that! They are family! Life is good!

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Sunday Services and Sharing

20 Jan

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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If this is true, which I sincerely hope it is, there is a very good chance that I will never grow old. I have so many dreams and plans and hopes, and I certainly will never stop pursuing them.

This morning, I had the pleasure of joining Mom at her Sunday service that takes place in their activity room. A very sweet lady from St. Thomas More came to lead the service and pass out communion. About fifteen residents attended, most shuffling in behind their walkers, but determined to recite prayers, sing hymns, and give thanks. I certainly admire their faith and commitment.

I’ve been staying with my mom for a couple of weeks now, and the seniors here are very inspirational. Mom is one of the most loved little ladies at The Greens. Everyone knows and loves Trini, and a lot of her friends have come to know and love me, too. (The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree… We are both nuts…sing show tunes…and do arts and crafts.)

I’ve missed my senior art group back in McKinney, but I’ve had the opportunity to share a few artsy-craftsy projects with Mom’s friends. They really enjoy my funny stories, off key singing and art demos.

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We’ve been making notecards.

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Life is all about sharing, loving, and dreaming. May you always have dreams to pursue, and may all your dreams come true…and NEVER GROW OLD!

Sentimental Saturday and Senior Moments

19 Jan

I walk down memory lane because I know that I’ll run into you there.
Unknown
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Yesterday, I was talking about old friends, the old bowling team from the 90’s. Well, not to date myself, today, I had a brief four hour lunch with my girlfriend, Linda, from high school in the 60’s. I say brief because, we could have used another four hours and not run out of things to say. Unfortunately, the snow started coming down pretty fast and furious around 11am, but she ventured out anyway, picked me up at Mom’s place, and we slipped and slushed our way randomly down Randall Road looking for a place to have lunch.

The poor waitress at the Squire restaurant stopped by four or five times before we even looked at the menu. After we got our food, she didn’t check back quite so often, as she got the idea that we were in for the long haul. About two hours into catching up and sharing stories about kids, family, teaching and the old neighborhood and friends, we started reminiscing about old high school teachers and classes.

“Did you have Mr. Dyer for Spanish?” I asked. “Yah, I did,” was the reply. Then I chimed in, “I threw up all over myself the first day of freshman year, first period in Spanish class. I’ll never forget!” Yuk! What a way to remember Mr. Dyer and Spanish class. Ah, those were the days!

We were so young, innocent, and optimistic back then. I recalled my story about being moved up to Honors English a few weeks into the semester during sophomore year, and I cried for two days because I didn’t know anyone. I went to Mr. Ruby, my counselor, and cried some more. He wrote a note and I went back to my old regular old English class, in my old seat right behind Diane. (Did you notice I don’t handle change very well, not to mention parting with friends?)

Yep, a lot of walking down memory lane. The year was 1967, the school was Amos Alonzo Stagg H.S., the memories are clear and crisp, and the friends were amazing… and still are. Thanks Linda for a nostalgic stroll down memory lane and the corridors of high school. FRIENDS RULE…OLD FRIENDS RULE FOREVER!!!

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Over 45 years later…still best of friends!

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Friday: Old Friends Who Aren’t That Old

17 Jan

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
Friday is always a good day to reminisce about old friends. I had the pleasure of visiting with some old friends this week. Well, they aren’t that old, but we’ve been friends for a very long time. We don’t often have the opportunity to all be in the same city at the same time. We had a lovely visit and a wonderful dinner. I present to you… The MORNING STARS… Deer Park Lanes Bowling team extraordinaire! (Back in the 90’s)

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Wow, let me think, has it been twenty years? Our kids were little and in school and the highlight of our week was Wednesday bowling with the girls and a quick lunch, then off to the bus stop. Now, some of the girls are grandmas, and will be rushing off to bus stops again. Life is so fleeting, and the fleet seems to sail away all too quickly these days. Enjoy each moment and each friend!!!

OLD FRIENDS
I rejoice in the glow of friendship
I am blessed with their gifts of love
Beside me in joy or through hardship
A true blessing from God above.
(Me)
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Theme Song Thursday: Thank Heaven for Little Girls

17 Jan

“Like star dust glistening on fairies’ wings, Little girls dreams are of magical things.”
-Sherry Larson
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Aren’t little girls wonderful treasures? Then, they grow up to be…well, whatever they want to be. My dearest friend Lin stopped by with her beautiful granddaughters the other day. They are so adorable, filled with energy and sunshine. Children are God’s way of reminding us that life is beautiful, but little girls are God’s way of showing us just how much.

If you have a little girl, or know a little girl, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
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Perry Como – Thank Heaven For Little Girls Lyrics
Send “Thank Heaven For Little Girls” Ringtone to your Cell
Thank heaven for little girls
For little girls get bigger every day!

Thank heaven for little girls
They grow up in the most delightful way!

Those little eyes so helpless and appealing
One day will flash and send you crashin thru the ceilin

Thank heaven for little girls
Thank heaven for them all,
No matter where no matter who
For without them, what would little boys do?

Thank heaven . . . thank heaven . . .
Thank heaven for little girls!

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Here are three of the cutest little girls I know.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom:What Goes Around Comes Around

15 Jan

Love what you have. Need what you want. Accept what you receive. Give what you can. Always remember, what goes around, comes around.
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Wise words, wouldn’t you say? I’m pretty sure that I have given my all and done my best these six decades, because I have been blessed many fold. The more I share my heart, my time and my words, the more wonderful friends I make. Unfortunately, sometimes people come into your life that don’t follow this premise. But, that’s their problem, not yours, not mine. “You reap what you sow.” I have a beautiful garden!

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Tuesday: Timeless Tips for a Sweet Life

14 Jan

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces. ~Judith Viorst
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My friend Chaplain Jim sent a timely post today. He described how a loving and faithful family compares very much to running a bakery and the sweet creations that are produced. “Good baking and a sweet life can’t just be thrown together in a cold, business-like fashion either– it’s love and passion that turns a pastry, a business, a family, a life, into something truly sweet.”

Chaplain Jim is far from home and his sweet family. His inspiring words are poignant and worth sharing with the world. Please take a little time to read what this charming chaplain has discovered…

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De Azucar
I was inspired talking with one of my Soldiers named Daniel yesterday, and he seemed to be inspired too, as excited as he was telling me about his wife’s bake shop back home in FL called De Azucar (“Of Sugar”). We were at a computer, so he quickly pulled up the website, and had me drooling over scrumptuous looking pastries. They looked so good, I could almost taste them, even though they’re thousands of miles away! But what inspired me even more was how Daniel was talking about his wife, his family, and that bake shop that is becoming a family ministry.

He said she’s not making any money on it yet, “But look at all those people she’s blessing already!” he exclaimed, pointing at the picture of the team of ten his wife, Angie, has working for her (and GETTING paid– after only a year of being open!). And he was proud to say that one in the picture is his son, and one his future daughter-in-law. All that sweetness on the shelves and in my friend’s voice as he raved about the shop and his family, got me to thinking– what makes for the “sweet life”?

A lot like any kitchen or bake shop, I’m thinking it starts with keeping clean– a guy doesn’t get to be married 30 years like my friend, and beaming about his family if his family life is polluted with all kinds of messes and dirt that we often bring home! Also like pastries, while it’s got a lot of sweetness to it, it’s not all sugar– the ingredients of a sweet life, as with pastries, includes a large amount of substance that is as boring as plain old flour, with a whole variety of other things thrown in.

But it’s not just ANYTHING thrown in that makes for sweet pastries and a sweet life, but the RIGHT ingredients. Ingredients of love and simplicity and wholesome goodness, just enough electronics and digits to get the word out, but mostly a whole lot of warmth, relationship, prayer, and good chemistry. Good baking and a sweet life can’t just be thrown together in a cold, business-like fashion either– it’s love and passion that turns a pastry, a business, a family, a life, into something truly sweet (you should read some of the reviews of the place!).

What are the ingredients, what is the passion that you’re using to cook up your family’s faith? Daniel was telling me in various ways that this little shop has been bathed in prayer for a long time, and is an answer to prayer that has more blessings to come. How much passionate prayer do you put into the family God has entrusted to you? What are you doing with the “kitchen” of your life to make sure it’s the kind of clean and wholesome place that can cook up a sweet life, rather than infecting everything that comes out of it because of the dirtiness inside? Keeping a kitchen, a bake shop, keeping a life clean is a never-ending discipline– “if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean” I learned early in my McDonands career. Our lives are the same way– we can never stop cleaning up the messes that are simply a product of living in a broken world. And like Angie and her pastries, are you only using the right INGREDIENTS in your life, or are you filling it with left-overs, with junk, or what will “just do,” or are you using your passions and faith to fill your life with Godly ingredients?

There’s a lot a family can learn about feasting on the Sweet Life from a place like De Azucar and the family it has grown out of. I’m eager to get back in the “kitchen” myself– how about you?
Savoring the Sweet Life– (De Azucar is in Oviedo for your FL folk…)

Rev. Jim

Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
Brigade Chaplain
DSN: (318) 430-4106
Cell phone: 9978.7664
NIPR: james.r.lewis1.mil@mail.mil
SIPR: james.r.lewis1@swa.army.smil.mil

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Angie Lopez and her son Daniel Jr.

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A delicious dessert or a delightful life requires devotion and dedication. Thank you Chaplain Jim! You are SWEET!!!

Montage Monday: Family, Fun, and Freezing Temps

14 Jan

“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning…proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.”
― Carl Sandburg. (Chicago Quote)
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Pelting sleet, walls of snow, and subzero temperatures that would make a polar bear cry could not dampen my spirit and the joy of being back home. I have spent precious days with family and friends, with many more to look forward to. My spirit is renewed and revitalized. Sometimes you just need that hand to hold and those shoulders to hug. My sons are my dearest treasures, and being able to spend so much time with them is amazing. Life is good!

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Sunday:Sermons and Sunsets

13 Jan

“Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley
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This is an amazing quote. If only I could write such profound prose to stir the souls and senses of mankind. Perhaps one day I will, but for now, I am content to share my joys and sorrows with my simple words, poorly constructed sentences, and less than perfect punctuation. After all, it’s a blog, not Emily Dickinson.

I had a wonderful birthday weekend with my sons. Today being Sunday, I was filled with that nagging ingrained Catholic guilt. Not so much because it was Sunday, but because there was a Catholic Church right across the street from Matt’s place. The bells ring every morning from several different churches within a couple mile radius. But really…just out his front window…guilt…guilt…and more guilt! I was up early anyway. Could it have been from all the ringing of bells since 6am?

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St. Helen’s is a beautiful traditional Catholic Church nestled in the Ukrainian Village section of Chicago. With vibrant stained glass windows, well-worn wooden pews, and gilded golden adornments, the interior evokes reverence and reflection. (Hey, that sounded kinda prose-like, didn’t it?)

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Today’s sermon was about baptism, and Father Frank reminded us that we must take our faith seriously, long after that initial sacrament. Families should live their faith every day. An amazing thing happened while we all stood for the Gospel. Just when Father began, a brilliant beam of red light pierced through the rear stained glass window and caressed my face. Call me silly, but it felt like a sign from above and it shone just for me. It was God’s way of giving my a ray of hope and the gift of love. After Mass, I lit a candle and thanked The Lord for His blessings.

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After church, I packed up to go back to Mom’s, then Matt took me out for breakfast. Afterwards, we picked Joe up, went to visit Auntie Ann, stopped by to hug dearest Mike and Shirley from the old neighborhood, then off to deposit me at Mom’s place. Many, many miles were covered, hugs and kisses shared, and a glorious sunset finalized a long day of reminiscing.

As the quotes says…
“Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley
Yes, I did that today!

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