Fall activities abound for young families

veronica-matthew

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

Orchestra of Exiles: Birmingham’s Denise George pens third book in 3 years

orchestra-of-exiles-cover

Learn about Holocaust hero Bronislaw Huberman in my piece on Denise George and Josh Aronson’ book Orchestra of Exiles for The Alabama Baptist:

In her new book, Orchestra of Exiles, Denise George (and co-author Josh Aronson) tells the amazing story of Polish Jewish violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, and how he saved 1,000 European Jewish musicians and their families from Hitler’s horrors during the Holocaust. Released in April, it is her third book in three years published by New York’s Penguin Random House Publishers.

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Five places to visit when in Cuba

(Carolyn Tomlin)

This large cemetery is the resting place for many famous Cubans. (Carolyn Tomlin)

With U.S. relations with Cuba being renewed, I share my favorite spots I visited there during my travels for the Chester County Independent:

It is not your typical Caribbean vacation. Following along the coast, the land is devoid of skyscrapers and high-rise hotels. Traffic jams are non-existent. In fact, when traveling down the main west-to-east highway connecting the sparsely populated countryside, travelers see few automobiles.

However, occasional horses pulling carts with a single or double occupant are the norm. On Saturday, in the rural area, lines of freshly-washed clothes dry outside in this tropical climate. Horses serve as lawnmowers as they are tied to small sections of the road where they eat lush green grass.

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Honoring the Spirit of Christmas

poinsetta

The poinsettia plant is symbolic with the spirit of Christmas.

My latest yuletide piece for the Chester County Independent:

There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people. When we bump into shoppers in crowded stores, we smile, say “excuse me” and allow them to move ahead. Our thoughts turn to helping the homeless and collecting food boxes for those who are in need. Perhaps an organization or church adopts a child for Christmas that otherwise would never receive gifts. Yes, Christmas is a time of year when we think of sharing material possessions as well as our time.

That baby named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago is as real today as when the shepherds saw the star and came to worship him.

This Christmas think of ways your family can put joy into making this holiday season one of your best. Would it not be wonderful if your family could look back and say, “You know, Christmas 2015 was one I’ll always remember?” Could these ideas make that happen?

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Christmas Memories

Holly Tree Gap Road

Holly Tree Gap Road

Early in December, I knew the Christmas holidays were drawing near, as events started happening in our rural West Tennessee community.

Even as a 6-year-old, I felt the surge of excitement taking place among our parents and relatives. Probably the first hint was the Christmas catalog that arrived from Sears, Roebuck & Company. Page after page of wonderful toys invaded my mind, causing me to dream visions of ownership.

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