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On the Road Again in 2017

Articles are sorted with the most recently posted at the top.

From Advent to Christ's Birth Celebration
Posted December 14, 2017

by Bill Burris

We have a custom in our home this time of the year. Once we return from our time spent in Destin, FL, we concentrate on two things. First we complete the decoration of our house for Christmas. It now takes us a bit longer than it has in the past. The goal is to be done by Thanksgiving. We met the target this year with a week to spare. The second is Marcie's annual Christmas cookie marathon. The process includes 14 different types of cookies and this year's total count is 942 cookies.

Our home now has three trees and a host of other decorations. Marcie has been decorating a "Bear Tree" for more than 30 years. In past years this tree had almost 300 bear type ornaments. We downsized the tree this year with fewer bears and it stands in the living room. The" Den Tree" is more colorful and of course we have a "Team Tree." The team tree is basically Pittsburgh Steelers because Marcie she was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but she now allows me to add some San Francisco 49er items.

Christmas time is one of Marcie's favorite times of the year. That's what drives the decorating and baking. I have to admit that she has pulled me into having these same mutual feelings. This is just another example of her wonderful spiritual influence on me.

Once the projects are done we begin concentrating on the meaning of Advent with the anticipation of celebrating Christ's birth. It's something that we began doing when God brought us together. It gives us time to contemplate what Christ has meant to us and how that has affected our daily relationship with Him.

In our travels together we find ourselves more in tune to recognizing what a wonderful world our Creator made. We see His hand in the many wonders our eyes behold. As we approach the celebration of His birth, we have a stronger realization each year of what His birth has meant to our world.

Each year the Chapel brings members together to celebrate the Advent season. Members participate in each worship service with special readings, songs and fellowship. With four Advent services it sets the tone for recognizing His birth, the true reason for the season.

Growing up in a Sports Family
Posted October 19, 2017

by Bill Burris

I learned early in my life that I grew up in a family with a major love of baseball. In high school it was my favorite sport.

Dad played baseball growing up and I was able to watch him play some when I was a child. He was the catcher and had a lethal throw to second base. He said he was taught by my grandpa. While in high school I began playing baseball like my family before me. I started out at second base and over time l settled in to catching just like my dad and grandpa. With Dad's help I was soon able to master most of what he was able to do. I learned his throw to second and in one game almost took off my pitcher's head, but he ducked just in time. Dad also helped me learn to hit with some power and percentage, as well as when to use them. He was always at my home games.

I spent two summers with Dad's two youngest brothers and went to all their games. I was only three and five years younger. On one evening I actually got to play. One of my uncles is also named Bill Burris. It really confused the announcer when I came up to bat shortly after the other Bill.

Eugene, dad's oldest brother, made it to the majors, although for just a short time. One day in the late 90s I was playing golf in Mesquite. I was paired up with an older gentleman and his grandson. Conversations turned to baseball and I learned he spent some time in the major leagues. I mentioned I had an uncle that made it there as well. He asked his name and when I gave him the last name he responded with Eugene. I was shocked. They had spent some time together in the Cincinnati Reds organization.

When Dad retired, he took up the game of golf. I was able to spend some time with him on the golf course. It was my turn to teach him some things in return. Never could get him to stop the natural baseball swing he used for so many years. It meant a lot to me to be able to play the game with him.

Looking back on my life I've realized how much information and positive advice my earthly father had given me to shape my life. If our earthly fathers give us fundamentals to shape our lives, think what our Heavenly Father can and does provide. I've been blessed with a wonderful family and my new family with Marcie. God has been good to me and good for me.

Peaceful Moments
Posted September 7, 2017

by Jim Browder

Here are a few quotes from a recent newspaper editorial:

"For at least two minutes Monday (August 21), Americans pushed their differences aside and shared a non politicized moment together.

"It took a once-in-a-lifetime astrological event, but we will take it as a good sign for things to come.

"It was a peaceful moment, and we hope the first of many."


Peaceful moments are few and far between these days. When was the last time Americans came together as one? Seems like it always takes a "really big event" like World War II.

Last fall, Lanette and I were on the road again with New York City as one of our destinations. One stop was the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site.

Looking back, the Al-Qaeda attack on Sept. 11, 2001, may have been the last "big event" to bring Americans together again. Yet the tragedy that took nearly 3,000 lives is slowly fading from our memory.

The immediate economic impact on America was nearly $250 billion. It took 3.1 million hours of labor to clean up the 1.8 million tons of debris.

Today, twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. The name of each person who died is inscribed on bronze panels on the edge on the Memorial pools.

It is an impressive and somber site.

Most touching were the roses. As a tribute, the 9/11 Memorial places roses upon victims' names on their birthdates.


Here are some words from a rather famous book:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."

On August 21, God again separated light from dark through an eclipse, and for a few moments there was a rare feeling of peace on earth.

Enlightenment from Amsterdam
Posted August 10, 2017

by Bill Burris

During my career I spent a lot of time traveling for my work. Most of it domestically, but on occasion I spent some time abroad. One of those trips was a five-day business trip to Amsterdam in 1987. Upon arrival I encountered something unexpected. As I walked from the arrival gate to customs I passed several security guards, each fully armed about 100 feet apart. I was thinking, "Do I really want to be here?" The airport in Amsterdam was a prime connection for the evil forces of the time to other parts of the world, hence the guards.

Fortunately, the arrival was the only negative experience to the trip. My company had an operation in Amsterdam run by an expat from Boston. He was a wonderful host and I learned a lot about the city from him. The unit supplied computer services throughout Europe. My task for the trip was to evaluate the effectiveness of the operation. In 1974 I was scheduled to be a part of that same operation, but the relocation had been canceled.

I spent most evenings exploring the city. Like the time I spent in Paris a few years later, I was comfortable walking the streets and seeing the sites. My lodging was only a block away from the Anne Frank house. My schedule sadly did not allow me an opportunity to visit the house when it was open. I have always had a great interest in the WWII era. I've seen her movie and other documentaries about her life, but seeing the home would have definitely been a bucket list item.

While walking around the city, I found myself entering the well known "Red Light" district. I decided to walk through to see what it was like. The operative word here was "walk." As I walked through, I saw the women in the windows with blank soulless eyes. At the time I thought how sad they looked. Looking back on that time from where I now see things with different eyes, I realize it could have been the absence of God in their lives.

God has blessed me so many times in my life, including being able to see many different parts of His creation and how He uses people to enhance his works. I see daily blessings in my personal life as well. He brought me to a wonderful, caring Christian community at a time when my late wife and I needed their support. Then he brought Marcie into my life and as they say, "The rest is history."

The End of the Road
Posted July 20, 2017

by Jim Browder

It was a sad day when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus went out of business a few weeks ago. It made me think of Susie.

Susie was a nice girl...a little plump...but pleasant.

I first met Susie in downtown Fort Worth behind the old T&P Railroad Depot, on the other side of the tracks. She had a long nose, flat feet and wrinkled skin, but she was in show business--and that's all that mattered.

However, after a long walk together, I discovered that all Susie really wanted to do was drink a lot, and then hit the hay.

So I left her there with her friends...all of them drinking shamelessly.

Yep, they were drinking water out of 55-gallon drums and happily eyeing a couple of tons of hay on the other side of the fence. Susie, you see, was one of 18 elephants in town with the circus. I rode Susie from behind the T&P railroad station to Will Rogers Coliseum - a bumpy two and a half miles on a pleasant, but smelly beast.

What's it like riding an elephant? Well, it's dirty. The first thing elephants do upon being taken off the circus train is grab trunks full of local dirt and spray it on their backs. There is an odor, too, but after a while you don't notice it so much because you smell the same way.

You ride way up front on the elephant's head. The swaying motion can almost leave you seasick. The animal's lumbering gait keeps throwing your hips and pelvis into gyrations akin to Elvis Presley doing "Hound Dog." At the end of the trip you're all shook up.

It was a unique experience. Unfortunately, no one else will ever be able to enjoy riding a circus elephant like that. And no little kids can dream of running away to join the circus. You see, a group of activists forced the circus to stop using elephants.

Apparently, in today's politically-correct world it is unacceptable for elephants to be used for entertainment. So, when the elephants were gone, attendance plummeted and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was forced out of business. Hundreds of people lost their jobs. Pray for these workers and entertainers.

Today if you want to see world-class clowns in action you must visit Congress.

Getting back to the subject at hand, I wonder: Was Susie still there when the circus folded its tent? Maybe I should have checked it out. Nah, some say elephants never forget. She'd undoubtedly remember that I didn't even kiss her goodbye.

One thing we know for sure. God never forgets one of his own and as noted in Hebrews 8:12, He will "forgive our sins and remember them no more."

On the Road to a Reunion More than 50 Years in the Making
Posted July 6, 2017

by Bill Burris

God often uses genealogy to bring long-separated family members together.

In the late 1950s my older brother was married with two children. But he and his wife divorced early, and I was never able to meet his son and daughter.

Fast forward over fifty years. In 2009, that same brother's ex-wife reached out to my uncle on a genealogy matter. That opened the door for me to learn where she and her family were living. I began following my niece Brenda on Facebook. Wanting to reach out to her in some way, I sent her mother my contact information. Sometime later, her mother indicated that Brenda was becoming interested in learning about the family she never knew. It was July 2016 when I received an email confirming that she was ready to start that journey.

Brenda lives in the Orlando area, so when Marcie and I scheduled our Destin trip for last year, I invited my niece to spend some time with us there. I was so pleased when she accepted. That October was my first time to ever see Brenda, who had just turned 59 in February. I learned so much about her in that short two-day visit. She's a widow with a son and is a licensed counselor for grief and mental illness, as well as having been trained in a new procedure to treat PTSD.

In March of this year I took Marcie to Cocoa Beach to spend some time with her long-time friend and husband. While in Florida, I arranged to meet with Brenda, her son Brendan, and her mother Edna (my brother's ex-wife) for a luncheon gathering. It was wonderful to finally connect with that long-lost part of our family.

Later that month my other brother and his wife were in Tampa spending time with family. They reached out to Brenda, who joined them for an afternoon with another part of the family she had never known. Brenda has now met four of her cousins, another uncle and one of my own cousins who lives in the Clearwater area.

After all that time, God brought Brenda and her family back into my life and into the lives of additional Burris family members from the Tampa and the Orlando areas. He has found a way through genealogy to bless long-separated family members by bringing them together after all.

Random Smart Thoughts
Posted June 21, 2017

by Kay Lea Scott

Reader warning: The following thoughts are not bright, intelligent or genius. They are smart because they are about Smart cars.

I've been fascinated by Smart car sightings since I first saw one in the early 90"s. It was parked on a street in the south of France. Actually it wasn't on the street. It was parked inside a row of cars parked bumper to bumper. Smart question: "How did that little bitty car get parked over there?" The obvious answer was that its driver and passenger stopped, picked it up and set it down over there.

A couple of years later as the German tour bus turned a corner a Smart car dealership came into view. There stood a glass silo with four floors inside. On each floor a gleaming new Smart car showed off its unique styling and color. All I could think was, "So that's how you buy Smart cars, in packages of four". It looked like the Hot Wheels packages that were all over Wal-Mart back home. Again I had to wonder how those cars got on those shelves. Did the dealership hire the jolly green giant or Babe and his blue ox to do the heavy lifting?

My travel buddies and I were standing at a quiet intersection in Hamburg when a Smart car with two people in it stopped in front of us. A pizza delivery sign was attached to its roof. As I looked at that sign I couldn't help but grin. The thought I shared with my companions was "Do you suppose we can order an extra-large pizza delivered in Hamburg?" We agreed it would be impossible to fit an extra-large pizza in that car. We were sure the driver and his passenger knew exactly what we were thinking because they smiled and waved at us as they drove away.

A few years after that Smart cars appeared on U.S. streets.

On one of our travels we pulled into a motel parking lot only to find an 18 wheeled car carrier parked in front of us. There was one Smart car on this fully loaded carrier. It was the very last car on the top level of the carrier and looked like it was hanging on by its finger nails. I could just hear the guys loading that truck. "Hey, Sam, bring your tape measure. I think we've got just enough room for one of those roller-skate cars right here." They must have pulled a ramp up to the truck. Then one of the guys drove the car up the ramp and the other attached the bungee cord that had to be holding it in that row of grown up BMWs.

On our travels Scotty is very conscientious about observing speed limits. Every so often on multilane highways we'll have a conversation that goes something like this.

"It's your turn to get out."
"You want me to what? How can I get out now? Why?"
"Well, somebody has to check to see if our wheels are turning."
"The way cars are passing us on all sides. We must be stopped"

We were on our way home from Dallas on Highway 35 one night when I noticed a car passing us on the left side. It seemed to be taking it's time going by us. Then I realized I couldn't really see the car. When it reached our front bumper, I started to chuckle. It was a Smart car! I was still giggling as I teased Scotty about being passed by a Smart car and its taillights faded in the distance.

On our last trip we went by a strange sight. Two large blue dumpsters were placed at a right angle to each other. Parked in that angle was a Smart car. It was almost exactly the same color as the dumpsters and looked like it might be hiding. I asked Scotty, "Do you suppose the owner has parked his car there to camouflage it so no one knows he's at this business?" After we'd traveled a couple blocks it hit me and I said, "Oh no, that poor little car is about to be thrown away. The owner is probably just waiting for someone to help him lift it into the dumpster. There's sure to be plenty of room left over for the rest of the week's trash."

With a little luck and a few more miles, there will be more Smart sightings in our future.

Just when you least expect it God will answer prayers, put a smile on your face and give you memories that will last a life time. The more you are aware of Him the more you see of His works all around His creation.

Dear Reader: My thoughts are not bright, intelligent or genius. They are certainly not full of wisdom as were the thoughts of the writers of Proverbs. Thinking Smart thoughts is God's reminder to me to turn to His Word for true "smarts".

Visiting One of God's Wonders
Posted February 16, 2017

by Bill Burris

In March of 2004 my company scheduled me for a week-long training seminar in Phoenix, AZ. While making my travel plans I remembered that I had two cousins living in the Tucson area. I reached out to them to see if the timing allowed for a weekend visit before the seminar. They agreed and said they would make it a special weekend.

Little did I know that the special part was to be my first visit to the Grand Canyon. My cousins Vicki and Carol are regular visitors there and have spent many hours hiking in the canyon. Talk about having a great tour guide, I had two and got to see so much in just a short time.

When these gals take someone to the Grand Canyon for their first trip, they have a very special routine. Once there, they ask you to close your eyes as they walk you to the rim so that when you open your eyes, the beauty and grandeur before you is beyond belief. Only God could create such a magnificent wonder. This routine should be a standard for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon for their first time.

The following weekend I was treated to a round of golf at the Tucson Country Club followed by a great meal at a local restaurant. I had a truly great time with family while seeing the Grand Canyon to boot!

The following year Marcie and I returned to the canyon along with my two cousins, their husbands and their brother Terry and his wife. The goal was to ride the mules to the bottom and spend two nights at the Phantom Ranch. Marcie and I both soon learned that we didn't like riding mules for a variety of reasons.

We only went part way and the others went on to the bottom. The ride was causing tremendous pain in Marcie's back. Another group that was returning from a day trip picked us up for the return to the rim. The lady wrangler in charge was very instrumental in helping Marcie return to the top in less pain. Knowing Marcie's problems with her back, I should never have arranged that part of the trip and she should have said "no" to the ride. We both learned a lesson that day.

Because of those trips to the Grand Canyon, I have learned to look at our world through different eyes. God has given us so many beautiful things in his creation. We just need to take the time to stop, look, and listen for His quiet voice. He has created innumerable magnificent and majestic wonders for us to celebrate His glory.

Discovering a Christmas Surprise
Posted January 5, 2017

by Bill Burris

In early December 2016 Marcie and I were invited by dear friends to join them for dinner and attend a Christmas program at the Homestead Heritage in the Waco area. I'm sure most of you have visited this location many times over the years. Most likely you've attended their Thanksgiving Weekend celebration.

When we arrived, it was about 20 degrees with a strong wind. We were so thankful it was inside their sanctuary. The host opened the event with a powerful message and story about how his nephew, born with a severe case of MS, affected the entire community. He compared what that child had done for the community in his four years of life to what Christ has done for the world. It was a very moving experience.

While we pondered his message, the members of the choir and orchestra began warming up for the night's event. It was amazing to realize that the choir contained over 100 people and the orchestra contained about 60 members. To think that all this talent came from one small community was a big surprise. They did not allow pictures to be taken so I can't share what we saw that evening.

It was interesting to note how so many members moved to different parts of the ensemble between singing, instruments and choir directing. They are truly a very talented community. You could see in their expressions as they played and sang that they were solidly into the music and its message.

Then to top it all off everyone was invited to their Fellowship Hall for an amazing amount of food with hot coffee and cider. Weather permitting it would have been held in a large tent.

There was not a moment that we were not in awe of the performance. Marcie and I both counted this night as a very wonderful Christmas gift. It was an evening that we will never forget and will try to attend their Easter and Thanksgiving concerts in the future.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

I'm sure that most of those in attendance felt His presence.

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