Published in the Rains County Leader on June 30, 2022:
The Chosen is described on its website as “a fan-supported, seven-season episodic television series that creates an authentic and intimate picture of Jesus’ life and ministry, seen through the eyes of the people who knew Him.” It is also described as the #1 highest crowd-funded entertainment project of all-time, raising $10 million for Season 1 and over $40 million for Seasons 2 and 3. A press release says The Chosen has garnered praise from critics and fans alike for its historical and biblical accuracy, playful spirit, stirring drama, genuine humor, and disruptive impact.
The Chosen is offered free of charge on mobile and smart TV apps. Some income is generated for future episodes through the sale of series merchandise, but the majority of the funds comes from viewers who “pay it forward” by donating at certain levels based on the number of episodes that will be viewed for free because of their gift. Since they believed strongly in the project, local couple Kent and Stella Larson decided to support the series.
The Larsons faithfully followed website updates and newletters, and when a casting call for extras in Season 3 went out to funding partners early this year, their interest was piqued. Donors and immediate family members were eligible to participate and singles could bring one friend. The Larsons signed up and were accepted for the feeding of the 5,000 scene. Around the first of March Kent began to let his beard and hair grow, and they began to work on their costumes. Participants were given a choice of who they wanted to be – Jews, Greeks, Romans – and they were given a color palate based on that choice. Because of their Scandanavian and Northern European heritage, the Larsons opted to dress as merchants from the north.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 23, 2021:
Christmas shopping is usually pretty simple around the Brendle household. David and I exchange a few gifts with each other, but our needs are few and our budget is limited, so shopping isn’t complicated. We have two teenaged grandchildren – one is a discerning fashionista and one is a computer expert. Since they prefer to choose their own gifts, shopping for them involves choosing the cards in which to enclose their checks.
There are a few families we like to remember with a little something, usually a coffee mug for the caffeine fans, a small ornament for the patio, or a tasty treat to be enjoyed during the season when calories don’t count. This year I had a brilliant idea that would cover all those on my list. In June I had a booth at the Greenville Market, and I met Georgia who makes jams, jellies, and dessert sauces in delicious and unusual flavors. A small selection would be the perfect remembrance without breaking the bank or braving the malls. If only I could figure out how to contact her.
I usually come home from vendor events with a handful of business cards and brochures, but I couldn’t find one from Georgia. Searches of Google and Facebook yielded nothing, and I was running out of time. Finally I contacted the organizer of the Market, and she gave me an email address. I reached out to Georgia, and she quickly filled and shipped all my orders with an efficiency that would make Santa proud.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 10, 2021:
There was a time when children were to be “seen and not heard,” especially in church. The only thing I was allowed to do in church other than sit quietly and listen was lean against one of my parents and take a nap. Since I have always been able to drop off to sleep any time I get still, that was never a problem for me.
When Christian was born, we attended a large church in Dallas that had Sunday School for children only. The classes were during the worship service, so I didn’t have to worry about his behavior for the first few years of his life. By the time he was around four, we were living in Garland and began attending a smaller church. A Children’s Church might have been available, but I was a bit over-protective, so I kept him with me.
He was no trouble. First, he knew what was expected of him and second, he was easily entertained. I carried a plastic bag of cereal – non-crunchy if possible – and a special notebook that was saved for Sunday only. Christian was an early reader, and he enjoyed the children’s puzzle section from the Sunday comics. I cut them out, pasted them into the notebook, and gave it to him when he got wiggly.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 1, 2020:
When it comes to politics and current events, especially those outside the safety of small-town America, I tend to be of the Pollyanna/ostrich persuasion. If I can’t see the bright side of a situation, I stick my head in the sand, hoping it will go away. It has become difficult if not impossible to find a bright side or to hide from what is going on in our nation today when media of all types is saturated beyond capacity with anger and hatred. The country where I grew up prided itself on being a melting pot where different peoples, styles, theories, etc. were mixed together. But it has become a seething cauldron where anyone who looks, thinks, acts, or votes in any way that is not in lock step with the herd becomes a target of that anger and hatred.
Our pastor’s daughter has a Shi Tzu that has a sweet little face, and every time I see a picture of her on Facebook, I get a case of puppy fever. I mentioned it at Home Group Friday night but added that Kitty would probably not be pleased. Our host said she would get used to the newcomer and they would probably become fast friends. That sent my writer’s brain off on memories of the relationship between my dog Lucky and my son’s cat Miles when they became housemates for a few months. There was a short period of warily getting acquainted, but then they began to play and wrestle and even sleep in a pile of fur and paws. I began to mentally compose an article about successful friendships that develop and endure in spite of, if not because of, differences. As sometimes happens when you’ve written over a thousand blog posts and newspaper columns, the thoughts began to sound familiar, so I did a search. Here’s a column I wrote in April of 2018, and it seems more pertinent today than it did then. (more…)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. Mark 16:1-6
Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 12, 2019:
I’ve learned a lot about good and bad light from Connie, my photographer neighbor. Good light results in pictures that make me look like I want to look, and bad light makes me look like I do in a changing room mirror under the awful lighting the retail stores seem to favor.
It’s difficult to take good pictures inside our home, at least in the daytime. There are windows in every room, and I’ve learned that natural light pouring in from one of those windows results in washed out photos and lots of silhouettes. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture Kitty in her condo, which is in front of a large window, Connie advised me to change my position by ninety degrees so the light would illuminate my subject from the side. The result is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty. She is looking out through one of the round holes in the side of the condo with a regal look on her face and a halo of light bouncing off her shiny fur. (more…)
Published in the Rains county Leader on November 27, 2018:
It’s been a long time since I wrote a letter to Santa – in fact, I’m not sure I ever did. When the Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck Christmas catalogues arrived sometime in November, my brother and I went through them page by page with special attention to the toy sections. We marked items we wanted and passed the information on to Mom and Dad. Somehow they made sure the pertinent information reached the Jolly Old Elf because on Christmas morning one or two items appeared under the Christmas tree. (Santa wasn’t nearly as extravagant in those days, at least in our neighborhood.) Anyway, I thought a note was long overdue, if for no other reason than to say thank you for gifts of Christmases past.
How are you? I’m fine – well, not exactly fine but getting better. I’m recovering nicely from my shoulder surgery, but considering how it hurts when the weather changes, I think the doctor installed a barometer in there before he sewed me up. My knee acts up some, too – probably from a skiing incident several decades ago. It would probably feel better if I would lose a few pounds, but I’m sure you know all about that. (more…)
Published by the Rains County Leader on April 10, 2018:
Friendship is not easily defined. The dictionary says a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, but friendship is more than that. During the ten years when I was single again, I met Mary one night at choir practice. Before the night was over, we had discovered that we were both raised in small towns in west Texas, we were both single after twenty-three years of marriage, and we both had one child. We had so much in common that we sometimes wondered if I had been switched at birth with her twin sister. We were and still are fast friends. Friendships are often based on common grounds, but sometimes it takes some investigation to discover those grounds.
Ten years ago I read a book titled Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It’s not unusual for two friends to write a book together, but Ron was a millionaire art dealer, and Denver was a former victim of modern-day slavery who escaped only to end up living on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth. Their common ground was Deborah, Ron’s wife whose passion was helping the homeless, and their heart-warming story is well worth reading. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 9, 2017:
When I sat down to write this week’s column, it was one of those times when I stared at the blank screen while the cursor blinked at me saying, “Well, write something.” Several hours later, I was still staring and it was still blinking, so I stopped and fixed dinner.
While I was staring, and while I was cooking, I was also thinking. I was thinking about all the stories I heard this past week about how our community has come together to help their neighbors in need. The stories were really good ones, but there are problems. First, many of the stories have already been reported and second, the people involved in the other stories are friends of mine. Most of my friends have, at one time or another, been the subject of one of my columns. Now when they tell me a story, they look at me with a grin and say, “Don’t you write about this.” (more…)
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.