Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mom Turning Ninety

Our family celebrated my mom's 90th birthday at our favorite place to each Mexican Food, Joe T Garcias in Fort Worth. It's an annual tradition to honor her while eating the best creamy beans in the world. We can't believe she is really ninety because she looks so well and is still living life vibrantly. She has a boyfriend she knew in high school who gives her something to look forward to.

My mom is an amazing woman who survived the Dust Bowl days in Oklahoma. She remembers when her mom covered her face with a wet clothe so she could breath at night. She advanced two grade levels because she was gifted. After going to Business College she became a stenographer and typed 90 words per minute on the manual Underwood Typewriter, one of the fastest scores in her class. She was in charge of a group of women in WWII who kept the files on top secret information from the war. She danced to swing music at the USO club while the men were waiting to get their orders for their assignment in the war. One time a soldier left his banjo but she never heard what happened to him. She passed down the instrument to my son.

Working crossword puzzles everyday has kept her mind sharp. I want to remember all the stories she tells from the past as a link to the present. We can learn wisdom from those who have experienced so much.

We are so grateful she is so healthy at ninety years old.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Home Improvement With Comfort Gray by Sherwin Williams


It is the eve before we move into our newly remodeled home after the big flood in the summer while we were on vacation. The hose to the upstairs toilet broke and water started flooding down our staircase. Jos our caring neighbor discovered it and called for help. Our contractor did a excellent job guiding us through the process of picking paint colors and choosing the correct lighting fixture. If I called to ask a question he always answered, "How can I help you?" I can see why Tim Allen was so popular in the situation comedy, Home Improvement, because we all like our homes to be a little more efficient, or a little more of whatever the trend is for the decade.

Newly fresh paint on the walls looks like a new beginning. I chose Comfort Gray from Sherwin Williams for the dining room because it matched the floral wing back chairs saved from the flood. I found the paint color on the blog, King of Comfort Gray.  I replaced swags to match  rose walls I painted the year we were married in 1988, to a brocade drapery from Alex. I found the Country French Fabric in Charles Fabre's book so  I was so excited to find the fabric from Cutting Corners which matched the Comfort Gray from Sherwin Wiliams.  I will miss my drapes because they are part of our history.  Many dinners were served in the dining room among the china plates I hung on the wall given to me by Great Aunt Grace.   I can't wait for the boxes from Serpro to be unpacked and all is put back safely in their proper place.
Here are before and after pictures of our dining room.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

San Pedro Harbor at Christmas

Its that time of year to decorate for the holidays. San Pedro Harbor joined in the Spirit of Christmas by decorating boats with festive Christmas lights. San Pedro is one of the largest harbor's of the world in Los Angeles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Praise To God

Psalm 107
God the Savior of Men in Distress

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his kindness endures forever!

Psalm 108
Prayer for Victory
1 A song; a psalm of David,
2 My heart is steadfast, O God my heart is
I will sing and chant praise,
3 Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp;
I will wake the dawn.
4 I will give thanks to you among the peoples,
O Lord;
I will chant your praise among the nations,
5 For you kindness towers to the heavens,
and your faithfullness to the skies.
6 Be exalted above the heavens, O God,
over all the earth be your glory!
7 That your loved ones may escape,
help us by your right hand, and answer

Psalm 118
Hymn of Thanksgiving to the Savior of Israel

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
for his mercy endures forever.
2 Let the house of Israel say,
His mercy endures forever.
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
His mercy endures forever.
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
His mercy endures forever.
5 In my straits I called upon the Lord,
the Lord answered me and set me free
6 The Lord is with me; I fear not;
what can man do against me?
7 The Lord is with me to help me,
and I shall look down upon my foes,
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

Psalm 113
Praise of the Lord for His Care of the Lowly

1Praise you servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord
both now and forever.
3 From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the Lord to be praised.
4 High above all nations is the Lord,
above the heavens is his glory.
5 Who is like the Lord, or God, who is enthroned on high
6 and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
7 He raises up the lowly from the dust,
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
8 To seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people
9 He establishes in her home the barren wife
as the joyful mother of children.

Psalm 138
Hymn of a Grateful Heart
1. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, (for you have heard the words of my mouth)in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
2 I will worship at your holly temple
and give thanks to your name,
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise,
3 When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
4 All the kings of the earth shall give
thanks to you, O Lord,
when they hear the words of your mouth;
5 And they shall sing of the ways of the
"Great is the glory of the Lord,"
6 The Lord is exalted,

Psalm 150
1 Praise the Lord in his sanctuary,
praise him in the firmament of his strength.
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds,
praise him for his sovereign majesty.
3 Praise him with the blast of the trumpet,
praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipe.
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals
praise him with clanging cymbals.
praise the Lord! Alleluia.

1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be
What came to be
4 Through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 A man named John was sent from God.
7 He came for testimony, to testify to the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him,
11 He came to what was his own;
but his own people did not accept him
12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.
13 who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father's only Son,
full of grace and truth.

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that he world might be saved through him.

The Birth of Jesus
Mathew 1
21 "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,"
which means "God is with us."

Gentle Mastery of Christ
Mathew 11
28 "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

The Lords Supper
Mark 14
22 While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take it, this is my body."
23 Then he took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 He said to them,
This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.
25 Amen I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

The Resurrection of Jesus
Mark 16: 4
When they looked up, they saw that the stone entering the tomb had been rolled back; it was very large.
5 On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.
6 He said to them "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.

The Risen Lord appeared to the Eleven Disciples
15 He said to them, Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved

Galations Chapter 3
26 For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you belong to Christ, then your are Abraham's descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Ephesians 4 :7
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
8 Therefore it says;
He ascended on high and took prisoners captive;
he gave gifts to men.
9 What does ascended mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth?
10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens,
that he might fill all things.

Revelation 19:11
The King of Kings
11 Then I saw the heavens opened, and there was a white horse; its rider was called "Faithful and True." He judges and wages war in righteousness.
12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many diadems. He had a name inscribed that no one knows except himself.
13 He wore a cloak that had been dipped in blood, and his name was called the Word of God.
14 The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white line.
15 "out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he himself will tread out in the wine press the wine of the fury and wrath of God the almighty.
16 He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, "King of kings and Lord of lords."

Revelation 21 The New Creation

The New Heaven and the New Earth
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them ( as their God).
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be now more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.
5 The one who sat on the throne said,
"Behold I make all things new.: Then he said,
"Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.:
6 He said to me, They are accomplished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I wll give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.
7 The vitor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son.

Revelation 22
1 Now the angel showed me the river of life giving water; sparkling like cystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 "down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew a tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month the leaves of the tree serve as medicine for the nations.
3 Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it, an his servants will worship him.
4 "They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5 Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grandma Makes Creamy Mash Potatoes at Eighty-Nine

I Am Thankful For My Ninety Year Old Mom

I am thankful this holiday season for my mom who is turning ninety this December. Each Thanksgiving my husband and two sons go to Grandma's house for a bounty of food and for Christmas its my turn to cook. The arrangement has worked out well over the years. My mom knows how to prepare a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with moist turkey every time. Her dressing is made of homemade cornbread with just the right seasonings of sage and parsley. Carrots are sprinkled with brown sugar and butter. The mash potatoes are velvety smooth, never lumpy or gooey. Her secret to delicious gravy is first shaking the flour in a jar with water to remove any lumps.

What is so amazing is how she can still pull off a perfect dinner even as she has grown older gracefully. Her attitude in life has always been in service to others. My mom took care of her deaf Aunt Ada for several years because she didn't want her to be alone. Ada had lost a leg so my mom and dad had to lift her into a wheel chair. They took her on outings to get her our of the house for fresh air. She took care of Ada for many years without complaining.

My mom delivered Meals on Wheels for twenty years because she remembered how the organization helped her mom when she was house bound. My grandmother lived out of town and she visited her as much as she could but the meals delivered to her home was a life saver. She wanted to repay the favor so with her Methodist Church Group she helped deliver countless meals to elderly in need. Meals on Wheels awarded her with a pin that said twenty years of service.

It is a tradition to host the Christmas lunch for the Methodist Circle of ladies in her home. She is turning ninety and will continue to get out her best china, linen and Christmas decorations to decorate in honor of Jesus's birthday. The support of the women through the years got her through lonely times after my dad had passed.

Her faith in God has pulled her through the tough times. She was married to my dad for over fifty years so when he passed she had to learn how to sleep during the night alone. She recited the Lords Prayer as she drifted off to sleep.

The twenty third Psalms was another good passage to comfort.

"The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. In verdent pastures he gives me repose: Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side. With your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come."

When faith leads your life kindess follows all the days of your life. I think my mom is an example of this. I want to give thanks this holiday season for my mom.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Peace I Give Unto You

Last Sunday I took my mom to the church we were raised in, University United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.  I sat gazing at the colorful stain glass window I saw as a child. Jesus's arms were open reaching out to me. His eyes were saying I love you, I care about you. Six words encircled the picture of Jesus as a promise to me.

"My peace I give unto you." No matter what direction I read the words the message was still the same. "I give my peace unto you." "Unto you I give my peace." I remember wondering what those words meant as a child. I always felt a warmth as I stared into the eyes of Jesus as if He were talking directly to me. Sandra I want to give you peace. My peace is there for you, I love you. Peace calms the storm. Peace takes away fear and replaces it with love. Peace is supernatural and comes from the Holy Spirit as you have faith in Jesus. Peace wants to be your constant companion to help you through the day. Dear Jesus give me more peace today as I encounter relationships. The Bible says if at all possible be in peace or harmony.

Jesus gave this promise to his disciples right before he went to be with the Father.
"Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."John 14:27

Jesus promises in me you will have peace.
"I have said this to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Jesus promises you will find rest for your souls.
"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and by burden light." Matthew 11:28:30

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Out With The Old In With The New

I am saying goodbye to the floral wallpaper I picked out for our kitchen twenty three years ago. I still love the peaceful pastel colors which remind me of a Monet painting. But I will go with the rest of the public and paint the kitchen walls a neutral color. Our bathroom wallpaper must come down so I want to say goodbye to the swirls of blue and green and replace with texture and paint. As you can see by the picture I have quite a few choices on the wall. It is so difficult to choose which color because I probably won't paint for another fifteen years. I am going with Antique White for most of the house but want to try Sleepy Blue by Sherwin Williams for our bedroom and perhaps Comfort Gray by Sherwin Williams for the dining room. What do you think? Has anyone used those colors before. Another alternative is to use Softer Tan, Kilm Beige, or Believable Buff by Sherwin Williams. To choose or not to choose that is the question?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Possessions Do They Own US

Our family had a wonderful trip to Russia over the summer. While we were enjoying the Scandinavian Cruise, our home was being flooded by a broken pipe in the upstairs bathroom. My neighbor noticed a river of water coming down our stairs. She called for help and luckily Servpro came to to the rescue. We came back from Europe to almost everything emptied from our home; carpet ripped out, stone floors glaring. The first thing I looked for were our photo albums I had made for the boys since they were toddlers. Scrap-booking was a way to journal all of their momentous events in their life; their first haircut, their first day at preschool, their first birthday party, their first trophy for doing something amazing and their first date to the prom. Luckily alot of them were saved because people took them out of the water to our garage.

When many of your possessions are ruined you think how important were they in the first place? I had a memory of my mom and I picking our living room sofas at the going out of business Gaberts sale. It was a ritual for us to visit their gallery of designer displays, dreaming of possible purchases of House Beautiful look a likes. While the boys were off to a Chisolm Trail Boyscout Camp we worked up the courage to buy the most beautiful brocade couches to match my country french theme. They looked like the cover of Betty Lou Phillips French Impressions. We quickly went to Cutting Corners to find the perfect fabric to match. My mom sewed matching pillows with love. Every time I looked at our living room it reminded me of our time together, so happy we picked out the most wonderful furniture. There's a water stain on the couches now. Do I replace them or keep the water stain for a memory that not everything is perfect in the world but life keeps going and what really is important are relationships.

It's a time to reflect as we are living outside of our home while its being repaired. My husband and I are picking hardware and light fixtures. I'm glad he is having an opinion and wants to be involved. It's a time to purge and get rid of possessions that weigh us down. I am a collector of books but it felt good to get rid of the ones I hadn't read in a while. I love books probably because my dad was an attorney and I remember him reading his law books at night. We had two closets full of law journals he referred to while trying a case. Books are documents that protect truth and preserve the history of right and wrong. So the love of books comes from my relationship with my dad and how I admired the way he sought for truth and justice while working for the National Labor Relations Board.

Is it possessions that are important or is it the way they make you feel because of relationships in the past, present and future? Artifacts are a way to show a societies culture and way of living. We toured Pompeii, a glimpse of daily life in a Roman Village almost two thousand years ago. An artist took cast moldings of the Romans to get a visual of daily life so similar to ours. The image that stood out the most was a mother hovering over her child to protect them from the smoke ask because of the erupting volcano. She wasn't trying to save her colorful mosaic tile,she was trying to save her child. In the end the relationships of family are what mattered.

I am letting go of possessions that were lost and grateful for having our family together. I am hoping we will be in our home for Christmas and enjoy the new tile, new paint, and new furniture. Our antiques will be saved because they were not made of particle board, but of natural Mahogany and Walnut. What is particle board in your life? What is really lasting?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dallas Cowboys Beat Denver Broncos 24 to 23

The Dallas Cowboys are off to a great season with the win over Denver Broncos. Stephen McGee threw a thirteen yard touch down pass and showed he was quality backup to Tony Romo by passing 208 yards. Harris received 127 yards and helped win the victory. Coach Jason Garrett has nine games under his belt with a winning record. The Stadium was filled with enthusiastic fans who love to watch the Cowboys win.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday United States

The United States declared their freedom from England on July 4th two hundred and thirty five years ago, the foundation of our blessed country. My birthday is July 3rd and I like to celebrate watching fireworks and remembering the birth of America. The colonists were fed up with too many taxes, a lack of say in their government, cutting off trade with the rest of the world, and increased British military force taking away basic freedoms.

The declaration states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident:that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Because the leaders of the thirteen colonies were educated they were acquainted with the philosopher, John Loche, who inspired the noble concept of equality.

After winning our freedom in a war which cost many lives our country was still struggling. The Articles of Confederation was the first plan of government but it did not give enough direction over the states and our country was suffering from financial problems. The people feared some states would have more power so they were competing among each other. There was little trade between the states or other nations.

In the summer of 1787, the leaders from all states met to discuss ways to solve the problems the colonies were having. After months of discussion in the heat of summer a great compromise arose to give a balance of power to the states. They decided to have elected officials from each state whether large or small to make up the Senate, so each state would have equal power. The House of Representatives made up elected officials based on population.

Remembering the great compromise is a reminder to Americans that we are a United States for the purpose of creating a more perfect union. If we only think about our own good our country will suffer. We need to think about the common good of each other so we can be strong and united.

Let's start buying more goods which say made in America. If we all made a conscious effort to purchase American products our economy would improve. Companies need to stop outsourcing jobs and give the opportunities to Americans who need a job.

We need to get away from our dependence on oil and gas to foreign countries. Let's use wind and solar power. On a recent trip to Germany and the Netherlands I saw solar and wind farms providing energy to the people. It seems there is always some group of people who do not want it in their backyard but we need to wake up and do something. We need to be united as a country for a common good. I don't understand why we are so behind in this area compared to other developed countries.

So as we watch the fireworks with our friends and families let's think, what can I do to help America remain strong? I will promise to vote in the next local election not just for major elections because only 9% showed up in the last one. Are we so busy in our lives that we do not see the importance of exercising our right to vote in a free election?

The leadership in our country needs to stop making decisions to help companies that do not support the common good for our country. We need to have a common goal of improving our economy in a global society. Instead of seeing fighting among groups of people for their own self interests, lets unite to make our country strong.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Opposite of Fear is Faith

Our potential for faith is limitless. We can not please God without faith. Paul says faith comes from listening the Good News of Christ. Faith is supernatural, a gift from God. Fear paralyzes us but faith gives us peace in our mind and body. Sometimes when tragic things happen to us as a child or adult there is a temptation to live in fear at a remembrance of something horrible that happened. But the Bible says;

" All things work together for good to them that love God." Romans 8:28

"Anything is possible if you have faith." Mark 9:23

We can come to Christ just as we are, bringing him all of our doubts, fears and failures. Long ago He chose to love us.

"To bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty the captives..
To comfort all that mourn..
To give unto them
Beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
( lofty strong, and magnificant, distinguished for uprightneous, justice, and right standing with God amplified version)
planted of the Lord, that God may be glorified."
Isaih 61:1-3

The Bible says the very hairs of our head are numbered. It shows how much He cares for us and knows us intimately.

When worry starts to sneak in, use your mind to believe in God's promises completely. It's a confession of faith to admit the depths of His Love for us.

Paul knew how important what we think is because he said in Phil 4:8
Concentrate our thinking on truth, goodness, pure and lovely things, fine and good traits in others, praise and gratefulness to God. It is a reminder not to complain but live in praise.

Oh God, help me not to live in fear, but let my mind ponder on your healing powers of love so I may show love to others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rangers Fans Help Set Sunglasses World Record

The Texas Rangers Fans were looking cool in their shades to celebrate the first day of summer and set the record for the most sunglasses worn after dark. Reliant Energy supplied the sunglasses at the entrance of the Ballpark.

At the end of the sixth inning of the game against the Houston Astros, all of the fans were asked to wear the sunglasses to beat the Guinness Book of World Records of the most shades worn after dark. Former President George W. Bush and Nolan Ryan were shown on the big screen wearing their shades and got the crowd fired up.

Only 424 people were needed to break the record, but 33,533 fans participated. The officials from the Guinness Book only needed to count sections 314 and 315 to beat the record. It is official, the record was broken by the Texas Rangers Fans.

God's Love For Us

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15: 12-15

"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:18

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." I John 3:1

I ponder on God's love for me as I gaze upon the little tree that sprang up before my eyes in my backyard. The tree's leaves are in the shape of a heart. I do not know the name of the tree and I did not plant it. But every time I see the heart shaped leaves I think this is God's love tree to me. I did not plant it but it sprung up from God's touch of his finger. It is a reminder that God loves me. He gives me reminders of His love through His creation.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day A Time To Remember

Memorial Day is a time to remember men and women who have served our country with their very lives so we can be free. The idea started when women in the south were decorating graves of their loved ones who died in the Civil War. Major General John Logan in 1868 told his posts to decorate graves "with the choicest flowers of springtime." It was a way to heal the broken land of the painful years of Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Waterloo New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966. Congress passed a Holiday Act in 1971 to ensure a three day weekend of Federal holidays. A resolution was passed on Dec of 2000 to have a moment of silence at 3:00 in the afternoon to show respect for those who have died for our country over the years.

As our nation pauses to reflect, every American can think of a relative, past ancestor, or loved one who has served our country. I will remember my dad who served in WWII for four years in Australia with United States Naval Intelligence and was discharged with the rank of Chief Specialist with the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was a life member of VFW Past 8911.

He was one of the lucky ones who survived WWII. Many families lost loved ones who were never able to come home to start a family. We took Grandpa to the USS Arizona Memorial located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Memorial Day over a decade ago. It is visited by more than one million people annually. It marks the resting place of over 1,102 sailors killed during the attack by Japanese forces which led to the United States involvement to World War II. It is only accessible by boat. The memorial contains an opening in the floor overlooking the sunken decks. Visitors pay their respects by tossing flowers in honor of the fallen sailors. To this day, oil can still be seen rising from the wreckage to the surface of the water. The oil seeping is sometimes referred to as "the tears of Arizona" or "black tears."

My dad had enlisted before we actually declared war and was on a submarine translating Morris Code. His submarine was nearly discovered by the Japanese. We took a tour of what it was like to live on a submarine in such close quarters. Alex and Michael were able to see what Grandpa endured. But he didn't complain and was grateful to be able to sacrifice

for our country as was the attitude of that generation.

Our family took a trip on Memorial Day to Washington D. C. to learn about our nation's history. We visited the WWII Memorial to honor soldiers who served in the War who preserved our freedom from the try-any of Hitler. We had visited the beaches of Normandy on the anniversary of D- Day, June 6, 1944, the summer before. Michael and I wrote in the sand, "You did not die in vain." Tears fell to my eyes remembering the bravery of the soldiers as they were trying to take over the beach. Germans were stationed with their guns ready to gun down anyone who dared to come. The soldiers knew it had to be done to overthrow the Germans and establish a stronghold. The moment was captured in the movie, "Saving Private Ryan."

We visited the Vietnam Memorial and looked up the names of neighborhood friends who gave their lives in the war. As you saw the names of fallen soldiers stretched out on the expansive stone wall, the sacrifice of so many could not be ignored. They grew up in our neighborhoods with a desire to have their own families with children. So many mothers and dads remember their children with love and devotion. Reefs were laying in front of their loved ones names. Many were crying as they remembered who they lost.

This Memorial Day I want to remember the families of over 6,000 American soldiers who have died of all ages in Afghanistan and Iraq. I pray for comfort of the wives who have lost their husbands. I pray for peace for the mothers who lost their beloved sons. I pray a special guidance for the children who have lost their mom or dad. The sacrifice they have made does not go unnoticed.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding I Pretended to be The Duchess of Kent by Sandra Kent

After waking up at 5:00 to watch William and Catherine exchange their wedding vows I was inspired with two billion other people to celebrate the day with style. I got the idea to play the Duchess of Kent. I dressed up in an English Dress and wore the appropriate hat and went to school.

I greeted the office staff with,

"I just got back from my private jet and witnessed the Royal Wedding in London."

I went on morning announcements and said I was thrilled to share this regal event with your class, just send me an email. I quickly had my day filled with appearances of the Duchess of Kent.
I researched the latest news about the wedding.

I had a grand entrance into each class and said a little something like this,

"I just got back from London, England and witnessed the most glorious wedding of William and Catherine. I was so excited to be one of the 1,900 guests who were invited to the ceremony. I have connections through my husbands side of the family, he is the Duke of Kent.

It was a good thing I was on time with my husband because the Queen is always the last to arrive. William and Catherine chose Westminster Abbey as the place to exchange their vows. They chose their location wisely because it was steeped with British tradition. For over a 1000 years British Kings and Queens have been crowned there. The ceilings of the Abbey seemed to go on for an eternity.

We got a glimpse of Catherine coming down the aisle on the red carpet. The organ was booming with majestic music. Her dress was so appropriate for the occasion. Some say it was similar to Princess Grace's wedding gown when she got married. The sleeves of the dress were delicate lace. The boddace showed off her tiny waist. She was just breathtaking. Sarah Burton designed the dress. It has been speculated she chose a less well know designer so the secret could be kept until the day of the wedding. I think after today everyone will know the name of Sarah Burton.

Prince William wore the full dress uniform of the Irish Guards. He is an active member of the British Royal Air Force Academy of the flight and rescue team. As a Knight of the Order of the Garter, he wore the order's blue riband, to which was affixed the RAF wings and Golden Jubilee Medal. The choir of the Air Force Academy wrote a song for this special occasion called, The Valiant and the Brave.

The Dean of Westminster officiated for most of the service, with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England's most senior bishop, to officiate at the weddings of England's monarchs and future monarchs.

Kate did not promise to obey her new husband in her vows but she did promise to love, comfort, and honour and keep him. Two billion people saw the love Catherine and William had for each other as they promised to stay loyal to death do us part.

After the vows were exchanged they went into a chamber to sign their name in three official books, called registers. Since the wedding is a historical event there are always documents to say this really happened.

Catherine and William walked down the red carpet as husband and wife. Just like Cinderella, Catherine was escorted to Buckingham Palace in an open carriage. Onlookers had been waiting for days to get a glimpse of the Royal Couple.

Queen Elizabeth the II, Williams grandmother arranged for a luncheon. Let me read you some of the foods the guests were served,

Cornish Crab Salad on Lemon Blini
Pressed Duck Terrine with Fruit Chutney
Roulade of Goats Cheese wtih Caramelized Walnuts
Assortment of Palmiers and Cheese STraws
Scottish Smoked Salmon Rose on Beetroot Blini
Miniature Watercress and Asparagus Tart
Poached ASparagus Spears with Hollandaise Sauce for Dipping
Quails Eggs with Celery Salt

I heard William and Catherine have chosen to live in Wales without any servants. He is even going to take out his own trash. William has a heart like his precious mother Diana.

Thank you for letting me tell my exciting story. You have been a wonderful class and I hope you remember this joyous occasion for many years to come."

Friday, April 29, 2011

William and Katherine Exchange Wedding Vows

William and Katherine exchanged wedding vows of love and devotion in the majestic Westminister Abby.

"Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health and foresake all others, keep thee only unto her as long as ye both live."

William replied with a smile, "I will."

Katherine said she would pledge to comfort William but chose to leave obey out of the vows. Her words were spoken with the sweetest voice.

Two billion people felt their love for each other as they sweetly gazed into each others eyes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan William gave a blessing to live in love and harmony.

This is a celebration of a wedding made in heaven as Diana watched over and blessed their love.

I will go to school today dressed up as a British wedding guest who got to witness the wedding.

I want my students to know the Royal wedding is apart of history. It's the day the British Monarchy celebrates the tradition of marriage.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Eve Before William and Kate's Wedding

It is the eve before William and Kate's Wedding. The world has already fallen in love with Kate but when she gets out of the carriage and reveals her dress, you will probably hear the sound of ahhhhh, "how beautiful," in countries near and far. What is even more important to be the successful bride, is loyalty to her husband William. Yes I know they are royalty, but I believe they have the same hopes and dreams of newly married couples. They want to say I love you every day of their lives and feel it. They want to keep the romance alive despite children and pressing engagements. They want to feel the safe place couples in love have. The safe place knowing someone cares about you even when you have the flu and don't look like a princess. The safe place of knowing the love will last a life time.

I want to say congratulations to William and Kate. I still believe in the union of marriage and am so glad it is being celebrated. Britain keeps their traditions alive through rehearsal of well orchestrated events. I can't wait to see the wedding vows said in the ornate Westminster Abbey.

My husband and I were allowed to attend service there at Christmas time, simply because I asked the man at the door. "How do you get one of those passes to let you in?" He laughed and said, "Here just go this way." I had a feeling it was one of those times that I wasn't really suppose to be there but it felt so wonderful to listen to majestic beats from the large organ.

I think the participants in the Abbey will feel every heart beat as William and Kate exchange promises of love and devotion. Their senses will remember every smell, sight, and touch. The music will be just a little more vibrant than usual. Perhaps an old married couple will remember the day they got married and a tear will fall down their cheek.

I think Lady Diana would be delighted her son had found someone with a strength of character. She has already put up with the media and has held her head high. America loves the pageantry and history that our country doesn't have. We all have a need to admire people and we have a sense of duty to admire William and Kate.

I will be one of those that will wake up at 5:00 in the morning so I don't miss a thing. Can't wait to see the pomp and circumstance. Traditions are worth keeping alive because they bring a sense of comfort some things are worth keeping.

Have the best day of your lives so far!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus Is Our Bond Of Unity Easter Sunday

Ephesians 2: 13 14 Paul wrote this while he was in prison

Amplified Version

13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away, through the blood of Christ have been brought near.

14 For He is (Himself our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both (Jew and Gentile) one body, and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us.

15 By abolishing in His (own crucified) flesh the enmity (caused by) the Law with its decrees and ordinances (which He annulled): that He from the two might create in Himself one new man (one new quality of humanity out of the two, so making peace.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Duck Love Story by Jos My Wonderful Neighbor

For the past 10 years or more, ducks arrive at the pools in our neighborhood in March.

Mama and Papa Duck swam in my pool almost daily. I did notice however that the male duck was limping a little bit. Over the weeks it got worse and one day he could not fly anymore and had lots of trouble getting out of the pool. Mama Duck disappeared for some time.

Papa Duck stayed in my back yard, limping to the food I put out several times a day. Last week another male duck arrived and got into a big fight with Papa Duck. He even tried to drown Papa. I went outside and chased him away.

The next day, all of a sudden, here was Mama Duck again. Papa Duck went to her right away and they swam around in the pool for about 5 minutes. Mama Duck quacked and flew off. Papa Duck tried to follow her, but alas could not. He fell back into the pool and started quaking loudly, looking into the direction of Mama Duck's Flight.

The next day Mama Duck returned. She stayed longer this time and ate some food. Actually she was starved with Papa Duck at her side. She flew off again, but could not follow her. His limp was awful and he could not even stand on his left leg. This pattern continued for the next few days. During the day, Mama Duck stayed with him, but during the night she was gone. The other male duck also kept returning and fighting with Papa Duck.

Then one day this week, Mama Duck arrived again, and a short day later she flew off!!!!!Yes Papa Duck could fly again!!!

Now they come every morning for breakfast. If I am not early enough in my backyard to feed them, they are sitting in front of my front door!!!

During the day they swim around in my pool.... laying on the deck, sunning themselves and begging for more food. Do they have ducklings? We do not know. Maybe one of these days we will.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I've Been Touched By The Theater Angel

I went to school today with a little more joy in my step. My students felt the energy as I sang an obtuse angle is larger than a right angle.

I thought to myself, "I've been touched by the theater angel."

The play was a success because everyone laughed and was moved by the spoken words. All the actors were wonderful and had fun playing their parts. I admit I was a little nervous. I think they call it stage fright the day before the play. I forgot an important line in my part in rehearsal. To be perfectly honest I froze. Pride, the role I played, was so embarrassed. You think to yourself, am I going to freeze the day of the performance? Thanks to the theater angel and prayer everything went well.

It's thrilling to feel the excitement of the crowd. In rehearsal it's not certain when the audience will laugh or cry. But when live people are sitting in their chairs you feel the energy. Minds are thinking over the lines in the play. They are visualizing the set and hearing the message,good overcomes evil. Even during trials we can trust in this truth.

My husband and good friends came to say wonderful performance. Of course that is what friends are for. There was a warm feeling inside knowing I had done my best and that's all I can do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Contemporary Easter Play River of Glory April 20th

I play pride for a contemporary Easter play at my church, River of Glory. In the play Jesus deals with the seven deadly sins in love. He says I have loved you with an everlasting love.

It has been fun getting to know the other actors and feeling apart of a community. The director Mike has spent many endless hours building the set. He designed it to the nearest inch and put it together with the help of other cast members in one day. We have our one last rehearsal tonight before the opening night.

The play has made me ponder on the seven deadly sins. Dante's Divine Comedy, in Purgatorio named the sins in his play. Human nature has always battled greed, sloth, lust, gluttony, anger, envy and the eldest sin of all, pride. Some people see the sins as interconnected. The latin words for the sins are: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira and accidia.

The opposite of the sins are chastity, moderation, charity, zeal, meekness, generosity, and humility. I believe the trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit lets you walk in love, joy and peace. I am asking for God to help me not to keep a record of wrongs and love without resentment. Walking in love is a challenge every day. I noticed I feel His presence more when I cling to, rely upon, and have faith in Jesus. He came to the earth to set us free from our sins. Jesus died for me, that I might be set free. I gave him all my cares, he gives me all His peace.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

OK Buckaroos An Amazing Musical Journey of the Life of Jerry Jeff Walker by Sandra Kent

I have been a fan of Jerry Jeff Walker since I was a college student at Texas Tech.  I danced to his famous song, Mr. Bojangles in the seventies.  I was so excited to see him in person at the Q and A from the Dallas Film Fest.
He was a pioneer in forming his own record label and becoming an independent artist before it became trendy.  His new record company became a family business with the support of his beloved wife, Susan.  Their love affair and devotion shines through out the entire documentary.  The talented director Patrick Tourville and editor Nate Ferrone managed to make a family movie about Jerry Jeff's life through his fascinating interviews with his wife and other greats in the Country Music Business.  I submitted an article for CNN I Reports.  Check it out here;

Monday, April 4, 2011

History of Roses

When I look at this beautiful rose blooming in my backyard I think of the rich history behind it.  A 35 million  old fossilized rose was discovered in Europe and petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs.  Roses have inspired artists through the centuries.  Roses appear in paintings as far back as 2000 B.C.  For the design of paintings and carpets roses were very important in Persia.  The early Christians saw the five wounds of Christ in the five petals.  The red rose was declared a symbol of the blood of Christian Martyrs.

The Queen Elizabeth Rose blooming in my backyard was invented in 1954.  It is part of the Grandifloraclass because it is a cross between hybrid and floribandes.

Miniature roses came into its own in Europe in the 1800's with the repeated blooming roses from China.

I love to watch them bloom by my fountain of joy.  The tiny petals repeat with varied colors of pink.
David Austin crossed modern roses with the old ones in 1940.   His desire was to combine the fragrance and durability of old roses with the color range of repeating bloomers of modern roses.  He accomplished his goal and started his own nursery to sell them.  No one else would buy them.  But after a while his reputation spread through out the country and rose mania began.  All variety of roses were blooming in the freshly planted suburb of the 50's.

The Knockout Roses blooming under my sturdy Oak Tree are a tribute to his wonderful discovery of combining the old with the new.

Roses are found in different countries all over the world.  They unite us as God's gift to the world.  God shows how much he loves us through every unique blossom.  Every time I discover a new bud I am thankful for His faithfulness to us.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Muppet Movie Showcased at the Dallas International Film Festival 2011

It was Family Day at the Dallas International Film Festival.  Children had fun taking their pictures with Spider man, ET and Sully. The Junior League volunteered their time to provide fun craft activities for kids to do.   Children pretended to be stars as they were spotlighted down the red carpet.  The grand finally was the outdoor showing of the Muppet Movie by Jim Henson.  I helped with the information booth about the upcoming events for the Film Festival.  There was a sack full of puppets left under the table.  I couldn't resist to examine them one by one.  I first pulled out Kermit the Frog, a beloved character Jim Henson created.  Of course you can't have Kermit the Frog without Miss Piggy because their romance was in full blossom.  As I put my hand in the puppets their characters came alive.  Miss Piggy loves shopping.
 She asked each child, "So what did you buy today?"
 She couldn't help but talk about her many boyfriends, especially the one from Italy!!  Kermit was a little jealous but she made him feel better when she reassured,
"Kermit, you're the only one I loved!"
 The Muppet Movie started playing and a tear came to my eye.  It was a while since I watched the Muppet Movie with my boys.  Their characters transcend a generation.  Jim Henson brought to life characters children identified with.
Children kept asking, " Are these puppets real?"
 Jim Henson created such believable characters children were amazed and wanted to ask them questions.  Thank you Jim Henson for being so creative so we can enjoy your characters for generations to come.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sixty-eighth Anniversary of the Broadway Play Oklahoma

It is the sixty eighth anniversary of the Broadway play Oklahoma.  It appeared on Broadway March 31st 1943.  I remember seeing the movie with Grandma Palmer as a child.  It was my first memory of seeing a movie because I was only five years old.  She  died the next year.  I loved my grandmother because I felt her love for me.  So every time I hear of the wonderful play Oklahoma it reminds me of her.  I can imagine the entire country being so excited about the play because it was about the ideals and values of the average American living in a small town.  The kind of town where everyone knows your name, goes to the local church, and square dance on Saturday night.  In 1943 many loved ones were serving in WWII.  In fact my father was an Intelligence Officer who deciphered Morris Code on a submarine.  I can imagine my grandmother so worried about my father and wanting him to come home safely.  Perhaps the play came at just the right time.  It was a time in American History where the people needed something to take their mind off of their troubles.  It was a time where people needed to be reminded of what we were fighting for. We were fighting for the wholesome values of our country.  We were fighting for  freedom from  tyranny. Maybe it is a good time to remind Americans we still need those values today.   

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Prince William's Bachelor Party

Prince Harry is throwing his brother, Prince William a Bachelor Party this weekend.  Twenty of William's closest friends were chosen.  Mr Pelly is a good friend of both brothers and is helping Harry plan the festivities.  Prince Harry will leave for the North Pole soon after the party to help raise money for wounded soldiers.

During the day the men plan to travel on speed boats down the cold English Channel.  They enjoy skiing and having a good time.  At night they have several pubs in mind but are not disclosing the locations.

 So watch out Prince William and be safe.  Don't let your friends talk you into anything too wild.  I think its sweet Prince Harry is planning his brother a party.  They seem very close to each other.

The truth
It seems William chose to have a close knit group of friends have his bachelor party at an estate. I think it showed wisdom to celebrate this joyous occasion with close friends. William's brother Harry was leaving for the North Pole the next day and it was good to have plenty of rest. The occasion was celebrated in secrecy and his friends swore to silence. It seems trust is very important to William.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

William and Kate's Wedding A Match Made In Heaven by Sandra Kent  Check out the link to the article I wrote for CNN I Reports along with Showbiz tonight with fabulous Brooke Anderson.  I am a big fan of William and Kate and would love to have the opportunity to cover their wedding with Showbiz tonight on CNN. Brooke Anderson is flying to London to cover the Royal Wedding. Anyone can join the contest.  You just have to submit why you would be a good candidate.  If you are chosen CNN will fly you to London to help cover the Royal Wedding.  I decided to have the video not be about me, but about Prince William and Kate Middleton.  They make such a lovely couple.

Kate and Williams Wedding

Friday, March 18, 2011

Saint Patrick A Lesson In Forgiveness

Saint Patrick's life is a lesson in forgiveness.  He was raised in a noble family in England in the 5th century.  He had a happy childhood with his family and friends.  We know a lot about his life because he wrote an  autobiography before he died at 67.

When he was sixteen his whole life changed.  He was captured by Irish Pirates who invaded his peaceful village and made him a slave.  He was taken from his family and friends and did not speak the language.  They took him to Ireland, and made him a shepard in charge of a flock of sheep.  He relied on his faith of childhood and prayed to God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit every day.  During this time he developed a deep faith in God and relied on Him to give peace during this battle of loneliness.

At the age of twenty one God gave him a dream  of a plan to escape from slavery.  He acted on the dream and started walking to the ocean.  He had to walked 200 miles to reach shore but when he got there he saw a ship that was so clearly seen in his dream.  He wanted to get on the ship but the person in charge was afraid he was a runaway slave so the captain kicked him off.  Patrick prayed, oh please show me the way God.  Moments later the captain said I noticed when you were on the ship my dogs were quiet.
"I think I will let you back on the ship to quiet the dogs and have a nice journey." said the captain.

The ship landed in England, the land of his birth.  But the journey wasn't over.  He had to walk hundreds of miles to reach his homeland.  He traveled with some members of his ship and they cried to Patrick,
"If your God is so great ask Him to bring us food," complained the crew.  Patrick prayed and all of a sudden a herd of wild pigs came upon the travelers.  They feasted for days and celebrated their stomachs were full.

Patrick finally made it home to his friends and family.  They were so happy to see him after all of these years of wondering what happened to him.  Patrich enjoyed being in the safe home of his parents and rested for years.  He was still called to His faith which brought him through years of loneliness.  He had a dream which said, "Patrick, you need to go back to Ireland to share God's love with them."  He struggled  with the idea since the Irish had made him a slave for so many years.  But God kept giving him the dream and he couldn't turn his back.

He decided to become a priest.  He had missed  many years of school so he had to study for years.  He finally became a priest and shared his dream of returning to Ireland with the authorities in the church.  They felt he was not ready to endure such a task so they told him to wait.  Patrick was around forty years old when he finallly got the okay to return to Ireland.

Patrick prepared his supplies before the long journey to Ireland.  He brought with him other dedicated priests,  nuns, a baker, and various helpers needed for the mission.  When he landed he announced his coming with the beat of a drum.  At the time Ireland was a tribal society ruled by leaders who were Druids.  Patrick told the truth of God's love. God sent his only begotten Son Jesus, that if they believe in Him they will have eternal life.  The leader of the tribe was touched by God's Spirit and became a believer in Jesus.  His whole tribe followed his lead and the first Christians of Ireland became a community.

Patrick and his fellow brothers of the faith went from town to town to tell the good news of Christ's love.  During his time in Ireland Patrick was used by God to start 300 churches and baptized 120 thousand followers of the faith.  Many attempts were made on his life because the chief's of the villages were threatened their power would be taken away.  Patrick has become the Patron Saint of Ireland because of his committment to share the Gospel with he same people who had captured him as a slave.   So I think his life is a lesson in forgiveness to love the people who had once mistreated you.  These pictures were taken last summer on our wonderful trip to Ireland.  I imagined Saint Patrick praying to God for help as he relied on the Holy Spirit for guidance. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ducks In Front Yard

My husband says, "The ducks are in our front yard." 
I go outside to take a look and there they are side by side under our Live Oak Tree.  My neighbor Jos comes out to give the latest update. 
"They fed out of the dish this morning and later moved to your yard.  They seem so hungry.  They enjoy to drink the fresh water I poured this morning." explained Jos.
Another neighbor came out with her two little girls. 
"These are the ducks who have been in our pool." said the neighbor across the street. 
"My little girls wake up and wonder if the ducks are swimming in our pool."
Yes the Ducks in my Pool have other followers too.  I'm wondering where is Momma Duck going to make her nest this year?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ducks In Jos's Pool

Ducks In Jos's Pool

My neighbor Jos has been feeding ducks, squirrels and all kind of birds for over ten years.  I think she is a big part of why I have Ducks In My Pool because she feeds all kinds of animals.  Momma and Daddy Duck enjoy Jos's pool too.  They bath in the sun and enjoy each other's company.  Jos loves animals and enjoys watching their behavior and habitat.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brio Set Unites Generations

Relatives gathered together to celebrate the life of Naomi Wylie Kent.  My sons Alex and Michael met their cousins for the first time.  Four year old  Cousin Ben enjoyed playing with his Brio Train Set on the floor of his Grandma Nancy's home.  Michael also had a fascination with trains at his age.  Thomas the Tank Engine was popular when he was a child.  Thomas is still captivating children with his stories of trains becoming real life characters.  Michael and Ben shared a common interest of connecting wooden tracks to form large circular shapes so the little wooden trains have an exciting adventure as they travel over bridges.  Beep, Beep, watch out for the cow on the track.  They made instant friends as they shared a love for creating an imaginary town.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Texas Bluebonnets CNN I Report Vetted

I've been submitting CNN Ireports.  If they like your pictures you get vetted which means someone contacts you  from CNN.  They asked for pictures from Texas so I sent in Bluebonnet pics taken near Ennis, Texas.  Here is the link if you want to check it out.