Thanks for the water, dude !

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This is Adam, one sculpture of two with the other being Eve, of course. These granite sculptures are located in Loose Park, a 74 acre swatch of beautiful land in the heart of Kansas City. Part of the park was used as confederate canon placement during the Battle of Westport during the Civil War. Just west of this fountain and herb garden is the Rose Garden which has 1.4 acres of 125 varieties of roses-first planted in 1939. Jacob Loose was a successful business man and philanthropist. After his death his wife, Ella, donated the land for this property in honor of her husband.

Cheryl and I visited this park two weekends ago. Unfortunately, a bit too early for half the roses to be in bloom, but wonderful, nevertheless. As we strolled to the herb garden and sculptures, I noticed two sparrows taking turns at bathing and drinking from this hand-held bowl of water. I only had my cell phone or I would have zoomed in for a closeup. However, the sight of these birds utilizing a man-made water source in a very serene setting really blessed me so I took this photo. Enjoy !

Overcoming

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To overcome any obstacle requires courage. We may not even be aware that this inner strength exists. Whether on the battlefield of war, fighting cancer, dealing with abuse or a host of other serious issues, at some point in our lives we will have an opportunity to overcome or be overcome. This is not an indictment of those who are overcome by something. None of us are Superman. It is simply a fact of life. Sometimes we are victors, and sometimes we are not. No judgement here. I am personally acquainted with both aspects of overcoming, yet I am not without hope.

 

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These wonderful sculptures are located within a fountain called the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain at a prominent point of the Country Club Plaza, a Kansas City landmark. They are spectacular. The artist who designed these is Henri-Leon Gerard, a Frenchman who was commissioned by a wealthy family in New York in 1910. Some years later the estate fell into disarray and the four bronze horses were sold. The Nichols’ family located these magnificent sculptures and had them shipped to Kansas City in 1957. There are four smaller fish-like sculptures which were added to the fountain which was officially dedicated in 1960, in honor of J.C., the visionary developer.

 

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To have such foresight as J.C. Nichols, who developed The Plaza in a Seville Spain motif in the 1920s, and the talent of Gerard simply astounds me. Kansas City is nicknamed The City of Fountains, and there are (48) city owned and maintained fountains within her city limits. This fountain (the most visited of all), and particularly these horses in full battle positions are a treasure. Because they reveal such intense conflict, the men and equines become one against their foes. These memorial sculptures tell a story far deeper than when casually viewed for the first time.

 

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No matter how determined one may be, to vanquish an oppressor takes more than courage and will…it takes help. Where does your help come from? For many, it comes from family and friends. For some, it comes from community. And for others, it comes from a force not easily identified, yet real to those who claim it. Depending on the circumstances, I have called upon all three of these helpers. Yet, there is always one unseen companion who stands by my side no matter what the obstacle. He has a name-Jesus-and through his spirit I am reminded that I am never alone in facing that which seeks to conquer me. I hope you have such a helper. And, I hope you visit this fountain and Kansas City some day!

 

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GRATITUDE

SL-1 184New Year greetings from the frigid Midwest. Another arctic cold front has swept down upon our landscape and has caused temperatures to plummet. When we have periods of cold such as now, I am most grateful for a warm home and car and coats and gloves. Hot meals and coffee help, too, as do caring people who express warmth with a smile, a hug or a hand shake. Kind words spoken with sincerity certainly spice up a dreary day.

Personally, I have been in a funk for the past month due to a variety of reasons: long work days and related stress, lack of sunshine, and the gnawing feeling that I was meant for something more than what I am currently doing. I have noticed that one of the first things to suffer during these morose times is my creativity. Hence, I haven’t posted for a while. So, I really appreciate you visiting my site at this time.

I have a couple of short stories to share which reveal people full of gratitude. My hope is that by sharing other’s thankfulness, we will become more grateful for our blessings.

Recently, I was the recipient of someone’s gratitude whom I didn’t know, but would like to. The gratitude was not for me, but for something far better. Cheryl and I were at a local restaurant with three other couples. The server was a pleasant gal from Bogotá, Columbia, South America. I am always intrigued by accents and tried to guess her native country. I didn’t guess correctly, but the interaction led to a most startling and beneficial discussion, albeit brief since she was working.

As discussions often go, one question and response lead to another, and another. My companions were also very interested in what we learned in such a brief time. As our server, Selena*, spoke of her coming to America she shared how her father had been shot in the head by a drug cartel member. He survived, but lives in a walking semi-vegetative state. Her mother runs the small propane business once ran by her father. She makes ends meet for them. Due to the seriousness of the violence by the drug cartels in the area of her native city, Selena came to America to receive her secondary education. She ended up in Kansas City and began attending college. As she spoke to us of her recent trials, she showed no self-pity. In fact, her voice became stronger and more impassioned as she spoke of the great opportunity she was given in our country. Suddenly, Selena’s voice came to a crescendo as she stated, “God bless America!”. She then qualified her display of sincere gratitude by acknowledging that many say those words, but don’t really mean them. She wanted us to know that she most definitely meant them. And, she made a point of telling us that she didn’t want or expect entitlements, but was more than willing to earn her way through the new life she has discovered in our country and in our city.

She then continued to serve us in a very efficient and self-assured manner. Needless to say, we were touched by this lovely person who could have easily expressed anger, fear or a host of negative emotions, yet she proclaimed convictions that I want to carry with me daily such as courage, perseverance  and thankfulness. I am grateful for Selena (*not her real name) as she has reminded me that gratitude should not be limited to those who seem to have it all. In her case, she does have all that is necessary to live abundantly. And, so do I. May we all be so fortunate.

My other story focus’ on a gentleman we met while on vacation in Mexico. Carlos is the general manager for the Marriott’s five or six restaurants at this facility. Carlos smiled a lot and made a point of looking for us each morning as we had our breakfast. He told us that he has worked for Marriott for twenty-plus years and has been able to put his kids through college because of his vocation. He loves his job and the company he works for. He loves life as is evidenced by his graciousness and willingness to assist us in any way while we visited. I am proud to have had our photo taken with this wonderful man.

I hope these simple stories help to illuminate your lives with a brighter perspective. These two gracious people have certainly done that for Cheryl and me. I am reminded that gratitude starts with a positive attitude. The ‘g’ is tacked onto the beginning of attitude to emphasize this dynamic. Selena exhibited a soul-deep joy that she couldn’t keep down. Her cup ran over and we felt her gratitude pour over us. Carlos’ enthusiasm and willingness to bless us was contagious. How wonderful it could be / would be if I lived life with the same zest as they do. Just think of how many people would be encouraged by my cheerful heart. The thought of such a thing brings a smile to my somewhat sullen face and a tear of joy to my eye. I am blessed and want to be a blessing to others. With the Lord’s help, this is what I hope to become.                  Cellphone Pics to 11-18-14 057

Happy New Year Everyone !

 

Opportunist

5-10-14 001As a photographer, one has to be ready at a moment’s instance to capture something strikingly beautiful or unusual…or, in this case, something that is an everyday occurrence, but most never witness. In a nut shell, photographers are opportunists. With this in mind, I present a bird of prey that was an opportunist on Saturday morning. While at Loose Park, one of Kansas City’s jewels, Cheryl and I strolled through the rose garden. It is still a bit early for roses, but something else caught our eyes and lenses. A red-tailed hawk catching his breakfast! I must apologize for the blur in these photos due to being startled by what was taking place, but I wanted to share them anyway simply because nature is so awesome. It happened so fast that the entire episode lasted mere seconds. The eating of the prey took all of five minutes. All photos are unedited.5-10-14 002The prey was spotted and the predator took off….5-10-14 004Bringing back his reward…5-10-14 007And, preparing to dine on the same perch he catapulted from only a few seconds ago. Some call this dynamic the circle of life. Perhaps it is…life for some and death for others. It is the way of this world we live in. One day, there will be no more death. What a glorious time that will be!