The Meaning of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated March 17, the date of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century. In Ireland this is both a national holiday and a holy day.

As the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was credited as the person who brought Christianity to the Irish. Although not a legal holiday in the United States, the day is recognized as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American cultures. It is estimated that about 39 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. The day has been celebrated in North America since the late 18th century.

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Beloved Branches

Asian pears grow on trees at Highpoint Orchards and Farm Market in Greensburg, Indiana. Located on historic ìPleaks Hillî in Northwest Decatur County, the orchard was established in 2005, on a property that has a home dating back to 1858 and an old mill barn dating back to 1854.

In our childhood, objects that were a common everyday event may have taken little notice. As we grow older, memories come flooding back when we least expected them to surface. Perhaps it’s the smell of a familiar fragrance, watching a trail of ants working together to carry a larger insect back to their nest, or the erosion of a ditch bank that reveals hidden treasures. For me, it was picking up a ripe pear in a West Tennessee Farmers’ Market. This simple act reminded me of the pear tree from my childhood, whose branches and shade allowed me to visit a pretend land of make-believe.

A few feet from the back porch of my childhood home stood a huge pear tree. I recall stories of this being the only sweet summer pear tree anywhere around our community. Who planted this tree? Where did the seed come from? Could an early pioneer have dropped a pear while traveling this land, moving westward after crossing the Appalachian Mountains? Even without these answers, I knew the tree produced an abundance of fruit as generations of family and neighbors walked by, filling burlap bags with the juicy, sweet treats.

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In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Holly Frew: International aid worker ‘built’ in Alabama

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Holly Frew (Photo courtesy of CARE)

Meet Holly Frew, a communications officer for the humanitarian group CARE. I chat with her about her missionary and disaster relief trips in my latest piece for The Alabama Baptist.

Assisting with recovery efforts in Haiti following the destruction created by Hurricane Matthew is just one of the latest disaster areas in 37-year-old Holly Frew’s life.

The former Alabama Baptist serves as the emergency communications officer for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), an international humanitarian organization based out of Atlanta. She attributes the preparation for her life’s work to her upbringing at home and as part of Gardendale First Baptist Church.

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Fall activities abound for young families

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In this piece for the Chester County Independent, I give some fun ideas for autumn activities with your family:

It is that magical time between summer and winter when the sky is the color of a robin’s egg and leaves range in shades of orange, brown, red and crimson. Darkness comes early and nights have a nip in the air—but days remain sunny and somewhat warm. During this brief season, plan time for family activities. Use these suggestions for building family relationships and making memories for your clan.

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Bates Turkey Farm: A tradition at Thanksgiving and year-round

Bates Turkey Farm

Turkeys at the Bates farms are raised as free-range birds, which the family believes produces a higher-quality product. (Michael Cornelison)

Here’s my Alabama Living feature on Greenville, Alabama, mainstay Bates Turkey Farm:

After flying countless bombing missions in Europe during World War II, Bill Bates returned home and declared, “I never plan to stand in another line or ask anyone for a job.” Instead, he had one purpose in mind: To produce the finest turkeys ever to grace a table.

Many Alabamians are familiar with how the turkey farm business was started by Bill’s parents. In 1923, W.C. and Helen Hudson Bates, Bill’s mom and dad, received nine turkey eggs from his Aunt Mamie Bates as a wedding present. In 1935, with the Great Depression taking its toll on small farmers, this small gift became the source that saved the farm as the bank allowed the turkeys to be used as collateral. When Bill returned from the war, his parents needed help with the growing industry. He stayed, and the turkey business has grown significantly from those original eggs.

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Storytelling With Photography

The cover of "Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published -- Again and Again and Again! "

The cover of “Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published — Again and Again and Again! “

In this article I wrote for the Chester County Independent, I discuss using photography to tell stories:

While writers use words to inform, entertain, educate, and encourage readers; photographers depend on cameras. When these two mediums are combined, you create a winning combination. For writers, photos can sell your story. For speakers, photos connect with your audience. Both can make a difference in your success for either. Continue reading