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Tag Archive: Christmas


As I was enjoying Christmas with family, I couldn’t help but think about the families that we delivered food to during the summer and for Thanksgiving and all families like them. I hoped and prayed that they were able to have Christmas dinner and presents of some sort. Or whichever religious celebration they observe. Thanks should be given to Metrocrest Social Services, North Texas Food Bank, churches, and other organizations that make sure families – children and seniors in particular – have the nourishment they need.

Here is the music video of my song, What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). Feel free to click on the YouTube logo in the bottom right corner to watch it on my YouTube channel and subscribe to the channel (you will only get an email when I upload a new video).

Peace be with you.

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Merry Christmas from Jesus

He walked through the streets in darkness,
Homeless but not alone,
A man on a mission of reverence
beyond the mundane chore of survival,
in a spirit of grace and mercy.

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry
With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,
He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,
Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,
the only prayer he knew.

Thanking “Papa” Johnson
For the clothes left unclaimed,
He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross
With a card on which was scrawled,
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Next was Garcia’s Grocery
For the leftovers not yet spoiled
He knelt and prayed –
Another crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,
For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,
and timber for his bed,
A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Too far from home, the mission closed,
He found a bench in the park,
after a passerby bought coffee
and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –
without knowing what they meant.

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,
he fought the wind and rain,
through the cold streets to the mission,
where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,
and life again had purpose.

The rain stopped, the wind died down,
as he trekked on home,
home – an alley behind the church
white and made of stone,
with a view of the cross on the wall.

He turned into the alley
and stopped in his tracks.
Where his cardboard box had stood,
was a sturdy lumber shack,
with a roof, a window, and a door.

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,
An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,
with something new on top.
A suit of clothes hung on a hook,
with the laundry marker still on it.

He closed the door because he could,
he’d forgotten what it felt like.
Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,
it had been years since he had his own light,
but then his breath went away.

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,
inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,
next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.
He stood staring at them, his mind racing,
memories bombarding his thoughts.

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,
after staring at the picture a while.
He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned
that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,
with emotions he couldn’t control.

Through tears, with shaking hands,
he opened the Bible and read
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Peace be with you.

guitar-tableDon’t know what to get that guitarist in your life for Christmas? Why not give him/her a guitar-shaped table? Perfect for using at the gig for drinks, picks, capos, etc. (see picture below), or for eating dinner in front of the TV at home.

The prototype was made with a Fender cutting board. I was the recipient of the first one. I’ve been using it for two years now and it still works great.

Each table is one of a kind. Different guitar shapes are possible. Or you can just choose Stratocaster or Les Paul. Each table will be handmade.

Order at www.danroark.com/store. Price does not include shipping. After ordering, contact Cameron Roark at CameronRoark23@aol.com for shipping information and custom orders. That allows you to choose the shipping method you prefer. Shipping will be paid by Paypal or C.O.D.

Time is running out to receive it by Christmas. If we can’t get it to you before Christmas, you could order a table and let them know it’s coming. While you are in the store, you could also pick up some stocking stuffers.

Peace be with you.20160402_184735_resized

DSC07035[Re-posted from last year at this time. This year’s observations will be in a following post.]

It began years ago with the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. Then everyone’s grandmother added their particular additional ingredients. It took on different identities: nibbles, trash, Texas trash, and others. Cyndy’s mom’s recipe is for Texas Nibbles. Our daughter, Jennifer, fixed several different varieties: no nuts, hot, not hot, really hot – you get the idea.

But the point is that – in any variety – the mix is addicting. It is the one thing left over that you don’t have to do anything for but grab a handful. No cutting a pie, no getting a plate dirty, no digging in the refrigerator. Just grab a handful. And it’s salty.

We give containers of mix to the family for Christmas. We also usually receive a container from Jennifer. Naturally, this year was no different. But some things have changed. We still go to my parents on Christmas. But we don’t have a big meal anymore. Mom is not able to cook and serve the meal any longer. Cyndy and I take the Thanksgiving dinner to them – just dropping off food for them and visiting a short while.

On Christmas day Mom and Dad buy snack trays and deli sandwiches. Cyndy, Conner, Cameron, J.D. and myself – often in more than one car – meet Jennifer, her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Kelley, at the grandparents house. This year, Chris’ daughter, Katherine, was able to join us. Rather than have the meal (usually brunch), we go straight to the gift exchange.

Then we all get our stockings from the grandparents, snack a while, and visit. Visiting is the most important part. It is the part that does not and should not change. The people may change slightly from year to year due to life’s circumstances. But the family fellowship does not change.

Our family is one that gets what they need throughout the year. We give gifts to each other all year. Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about celebrating Christ’s birth. And it is also about family – in all it’s facets.

But the one constant between Christmas and New Year’s in our family is the presence of Texas Nibbles. The mix goes quickly around Christmas and then slows down to a steady rate of consumption. The salty after the sweet. Just grab a little and go kind of thing.

I don’t know what Cyndy and I will be watching tonight while waiting on midnight. But I can tell you what we won’t be watching – the countdowns to midnight. I can, however, tell you one thing for certain. We will be eating Texas Nibbles from the bag I have stashed.

Happy New Year! Peace be with you!

Caroling 4A week ago yesterday, I accompanied the children, and my granddaughter Kelley, as they went to the youth and adult Sunday school classes and sang Christmas carols at Christ United Methodist Church. After gathering, and coloring with crayons, the children left the gym and headed upstairs. We gathered in the hall of the youth wing above the gym. The children sang a couple of Christmas carols as the youth and leaders came out of their classrooms to listen and join along.

Then the children went to each adult Sunday school class. After entering each class they sang  one  carol and Caroling 1then filed out singing a second song. Many of the adults sang along. The glow on their faces at times rivaled that on the children’s faces. When the children had visited all of the Sunday schools, they headed for the gym. In the gym, the children sat at tables, colored pictures, and talked as the leaders served Jesus’ birthday cake to each table. They also had water or juice to drink.

As the Sunday school time came to a close and parents began picking up the children, one thing was clear. With seeing St. Nick the morning before, and putting on the Christmas Cafe musical the evening before, going caroling, and celebrating Jesus’ birthday, the children definitely had a good head start on the spirit of Christmas. Their eyes displayed the tired joy of celebration (albeit with sugar rush). And the best part of it? Christmas is yet to come!

Peace be with you.    Birthday party for Jesus

The Jalapeno Saga

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

My dad recently had to move my Aunt Marie from her home to an assisted living facility. We don’t know if she is just losing some of her memory due to old age or if she has Alzheimer’s. She has not been officially diagnosed, but she shows a lot of the symptoms. Marie will be on the Alzheimers floor of the facility. She lived in Arlington, but she will be living at a facility on Preston Rd. in Dallas. I will be able to visit her there. I didn’t visit her in Arlington because my visit might disturb her routine. Marie’s doing better now and I can start visiting again.

Dad told me earlier because he is the executor of her estate, and I am second on the list. I naturally began to recall events with Marie – and my father’s family – over the years. Which mostly included Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her husband, Pick, and my Aunt Juanita’s husband, Jack, would sneak around behind my brother, Dennis, and I while we were distracted. One would tie my shoelaces together and the other one would tie Dennis’ shoelaces together.

Everyone thought it was hilarious, except us. It was mildly funny the first time, but it got old quick. Dennis and I soon learned to watch each other’s back. We would catch them before they had time to tie the shoelaces. The year I got loafers was a good year. I was able to proudly walk into the living room of whichever house we were in that year and dare them to “tie my shoelaces.” That year, I got the laugh.

Then there were the jalapenos – you knew I was going to get there, didn’t you? Pick would just pick a pepper out of the jar and eat them like candy. As a joke, our family gave him a small, six ounce can of jalapenos for Christmas. By the time we finished exchanging gifts, the can was empty.

The next year, we gave him a jar that was bigger than the can. Again, they were gone before we left to go home. The next year, a bigger jar or can. The ongoing joke came to an end the year we bought him a #10 can of jalapenos (the restaurant/industrial size). No larger size existed, so the joke was over. But the memory and the story lives on.

Pick died a number of years ago. I thought about putting a jar of jalapenos in the casket, but it was just a passing thought. For one thing, it would be relatively tacky – yes, like that. Over the years, I have developed a taste for jalapenos. Nothing near Pick’s level. But I think of him every time I eat jalapenos.

Peace be with you.

Texas Nibbles It began years ago with the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. Then everyone’s grandmother added their particular additional ingredients. It took on different identities: nibbles, trash, Texas trash, and others. Cyndy’s mom’s recipe is for Texas Nibbles. Our daughter, Jennifer, fixed several different varieties: no nuts, hot, not hot, really hot – you get the idea.

But the point is that – in any variety – the mix is addicting. It is the one thing left over that you don’t have to do anything for but grab a handful. No cutting a pie, no getting a plate dirty, no digging in the refrigerator. Just grab a handful. And it’s salty.

We give containers of mix to the family for Christmas. We also usually receive a container from Jennifer. Naturally, this year was no different. But some things have changed. We still go to my parents on Christmas. But we don’t have a big meal anymore. Mom is not able to cook and serve the meal any longer. Cyndy and I take the Thanksgiving dinner to them – just dropping off food for them and visiting a short while.

On Christmas day Mom and Dad buy snack trays and deli sandwiches. Cyndy, Conner, Cameron, J.D. and myself – often in more than one car – meet Jennifer, her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Kelley, at the grandparents house. This year, Chris’ daughter, Katherine, was able to join us. Rather than have the meal (usually brunch), we go straight to the gift exchange.

Then we all get our stockings from the grandparents, snack a while, and visit. Visiting is the most important part. It is the part that does not and should not change. The people may change slightly from year to year due to life’s circumstances. But the family fellowship does not change.

Our family is one that gets what they need throughout the year. We give gifts to each other all year. Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about celebrating Christ’s birth. And it is also about family – in all it’s facets.

But the one constant between Christmas and New Year’s in our family is the presence of Texas Nibbles. The mix goes quickly around Christmas and then slows down to a steady rate of consumption. The salty after the sweet. Just grab a little and go kind of thing.

I don’t know what Cyndy and I will be watching tonight while waiting on midnight. But I can tell you what we won’t be watching – the countdowns to midnight. I can, however, tell you one thing for certain. We will be eating Texas Nibbles from the bag I have stashed.

Happy New Year! Peace be with you!

Rashad and Kaleigh Okay, maybe not babes exactly, but children nonetheless. The girl, Kaleigh, is my friend’s daughter. The boy, Rashad, is Kaleigh’s nephew. I took the picture when Cyndy and I were watching Kaleigh and Rashad for Randy and Kelly. Rashad is now about five or six. Randy came by today and had Rashad with him. He just dropped by to pick up Disc Golf brochures, so he ran in without Rashad.

When he was leaving, Randy asked me to come out to the car so Rashad would know who I was. Randy had asked him on the way over if he remembered me, and Rashad wasn’t exactly sure. He’s been over quite a few times since the picture was taken, by the way. When we reached the car, Randy knocked on the window and Rashad popped his head up and saw me. He squealed, then jumped in the back seat and kept squealing at me and grinning.

“Now he remembers who you are,” Randy said, laughing.

I said goodbye and went back in the house. Not long after the phone rang. I assume Randy was going Dennis to Valwood to Josey, because of the number of churches within the two blocks of Valwood. Either way, I answered the phone.

“You should hear Rashad,” Randy said. “The things that kids say. Rashad would say, wow, look at that cross. Look at that church. There sure are a lot of churches.”

“Look at that church!”

“Do you like church and churches?” Randy asked.

“Yes.”

“What do you like most about church?”

“There’s a lot of Jesus stuff in church. And Jesus is my Lord!”

That is when the true spirit of Christmas shines through.

Peace be with you.

I was in East Texas a week ago. Marshall, to be precise. I had business in Jefferson, but there are fewer places to stay there. And less to do, to be honest. There’s not all that much to do in Marshall. But there were enough places to go to give me sufficient reason to leave the hotel occasionally, if I chose to do so. Which made working alone in a hotel room more manageable. Leaving is not as important when you simply know you can.

I had three goals in mind. The first – not necessarily in order of importance – was to reconnect with myself and recover from the end of year and first of year psychological roller coaster. From the emotional buildup before Christmas – which for us included plumbing problems beginning the weekend before Christmas and not ending until several days after – to the anti-climactic, questionable, introspection of New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the first few days – actually, as it turns out – weeks of the year.

The second goal was to quit a bad habit. I am fortunate to be able to say that – so far – my efforts were successful. The third and last – but certainly not the least, as they say – goal was to reconnect with God through music, meditation, and prayer. Actually, these goals were three parts of the same goal. Whether I reached all three goals has yet to be determined.

Reaching a goal whose finish line is not a mark in the sand, but an indistinct and flexible idea of a time in which everything will be “back to normal” is a rather elusive task. But the trip was for the experience as well as the goals. A chance to not so much take a break from the everyday, but see it from a different view. With internet, social media, smartphones and the like, it is, unfortunately, rarely possible to completely take a break from the “everyday.” If you think about it any harder, it is literally impossible.

I had this concept of the trip as a time of writing furiously and returning home with pages of prose and songs. Which was rather unrealistic. What I did accomplish – at least partially – was to realign my expectations, relax and spend time in prayer, contemplation, and guitar playing. Which is as much as I should have expected, being gone only three days and having an afternoon worth of business to take care of in Jefferson.

I also spent time thinking – in general, but also about this blog. With life not allowing posting opportunities in January, I also needed to revitalize the blog and reconnect with its purpose. Which always seemed obvious to me, but not to some of my readers. The purpose and goals of the blog will unfold as days go on. The About page will be updated along the way. Some things will stay the same.

But in the meantime, if you had four nights and three days to get away, what would you do? If you read any previous posts, what did you like most?

Join me – or rejoin me – on this earthly and spiritual journey.

Peace be with you.

[I have pictures, but apparently WordPress has not wanted me to upload pictures for a couple of days!]

Cyndy and I decided to bake a few gifts this year. Among other things, she wanted to bake mini fruitcakes using her mother’s recipe. I looked for candied fruit in the neighborhood grocery store. I asked for the candied fruit for fruitcakes and was told they did not have it. The last time I looked for candied fruit – albeit several years ago – it was in every grocery store. I persisted in my search by asking other employees, only to discover that they did, in fact, not have the candied fruit.

I tried again the next day at a different grocery store when I was picking up Christmas stocking items. The looks I received from the clerks in the bakery – who should have had some idea – led me to believe that the employees had little clue as to what a fruitcake really is. After checking where they suggested proved fruitless – pun intended – I went to the baking aisle since that was a logical guess. The candied fruit was there under the cake decorations, but not in the variety or at the price I remembered.

Which is due to the fact that fruitcakes are not the quick gift choices they once were and are certainly not as prevalent. In recent years I have gone through the holiday season without hearing the word “fruitcake.” In earlier years I would not have seen the holiday season pass by without receiving a fruitcake. Fruitcakes kept one from having to hone in on a personally relevant gift.

At one time, a fruitcake was what you gave someone when you did not know what to give them, or when giving one gift to a family. I remember the colorful tin containers that unmistakably held a fruitcake wrapped in plastic. I never understood why I never saw anyone actually eat a fruitcake. It was rare that I even saw anyone break the seal on the plastic. But when someone went to the trouble of baking their own fruitcake, the recipient was more inclined to open and eat at least part of it.

When we had the White Elephant gift exchange with my father’s family on Christmas, there was usually a fruitcake involved that someone had received for Christmas. It was not uncommon for a fruitcake to be passed around three or four times before the new year began. And then, quite possibly, the fruitcake would make the rounds again the next Christmas. With the same bow affixed to the top of the can. Often, the same was true of other White Elephant gifts.

These days -fortunately – the only people who go to the trouble of baking fruitcakes are those who have a tried and true recipe – such as Cyndy’s mom’s recipe. They can still be ordered, but few people I know buy fruitcakes. It doesn’t help that the shelf life of candied fruits after being opened, baked, and then taken out of the plastic is about twenty-seven minutes.

Be that as it may, giving someone a gift received from someone else goes against the grain of the Christmas spirit. Regardless of the gift, it was given with a good spirit. It cannot be re-given with the same true spirit. There is only one gift that can be given repeatedly in the same spirit with which it was originally given – the love of Christ. No matter how many times the love of Christ is given and shown, it is still fresh, new, and untainted. A gift you can give to anyone and everyone. A gift that can be joyously re-given and joyfully received. So this Christmas, spread the love of Christ – the true spirit of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

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