Highlands starts off 2-2

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After opening the season with wins over Sheridan Hills and Boca Raton Christian, the Highlands Christian Academy boys’ basketball team found the going rough in its own holiday tournament.

The Knights began the regular season as it topped Sheridan Hills, 83-67, and then downed District 7-3A rival Boca Raton Christian, 53-40, in the opener of the 40th annual event that was started by former AD and basketball coach Reg Cook.

Sophomore guard Alex Villas led the team in scoring with 16 points, including going 6 for 6 from the field with 2, three-pointers in the win over the Blazers.

The Knights (2-2) dropped its final two games in the tournament, falling to the eventual tournament champion, Pine Crest, 57-44, and to King’s Academy, 57-56, in the third place game. Highlands trailed Pine Crest by 14 points and were able to draw within four before the Panthers pulled away for the win.

Playing these three games really sets the tone for our season and gives me a good indication of what our strengths and weaknesses are,” said Knights coach and Athletic Director Jim Good. “Although we ended up losing two out of the three games, I was very encouraged and pleased with our effort. Unfortunately, we found ourselves too deep in a hole versus Pine Crest and King’s trying to overcome double digits.”

Highlands and King’s are quite familiar with each other as they faced off the previous two tournaments. Highlands defeated King’s for third place last year and in double overtime the previous year for the championship game. The Knights were down 12 in the third quarter before senior point guard Sawyer Lawhon hit 3, threes to draw them close. Lawhon was named to the All-Tournament team.

We, unfortunately, did not shoot the ball well from the free throw line that night,” Good said. “I guess King’s was finally due to pick up a win against us. It’s always a great week as we host the Classic right after Thanksgiving.”

Pine Crest, the defending champion, won the title with a 72-55 victory over North Broward Prep as Brian Anderson was named tournament MVP. The Knights had won its own tournament nine times – 1978, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2009, 2010 and in 2015.

Santos Sweep helps Piranhas finish 15th in Winter Champs

Pompano Beach’s Mattheus Santos, 16, and his 15-year-old brother Raphael went 1-2 in the 15-16 boys high point standings to help the Pompano Beach Piranhas swim team to a 15th place overall finish at the 27th annual Speedo Winter Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex recently.

Mattheus had 64 points, while Raphael added 60.50 as the pair combined to score 124.50 of the swim club’s points for the four-day meet and led the boys’ team to an 11th place finish with 219.50 points. The girls’ team finished 28th with 26 points as the program ended up with 245.50 total points.

The meet featured nearly 1,100 swimmers and more than 50 teams from the Florida Gold Coast (South Florida teams) organization, in addition to teams from out of state and international squads. Swimmers ages 9-16 were involved in the competition.

Hosted by the Plantation Swim Team, the Winter Championships is the state’s largest age group meet and one of the nation’s largest LSC (Local Swimming Committees) meets.

Other top finishes for Pompano included Emilio Barrantes, 14, who was sixth with 46 points; Summer Schulte, 14, who finished 18th in the Girls 13-14 high points with 17 points; Alex Marquez, 15, (7 points) and Shane Schulte, 16, (5 points) placed 30th and 35th, respectively, in the meet.

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FLICKS: Justice League

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

According to box office reports, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman is the most popular comic book movie of 2017, followed by Marvel Comics Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. But, for the most part, Marvel Comics movies have dominated the DC Comic Universe in both critical acclaim and box office.

For the most part, the Marvel Comic Book movies contain stand-alone stories. If one goes to see Black Panther next February, there is not a need to see the character’s introduction from Captain America: Civil War. However, it would enhance one’s viewing pleasure. Based on who the protagonist is, each film is uniquely different. Tony Stark’s Iron Man lives in our world, while the Guardians of the Galaxy live outside the far reaches of our solar system.

The problem with Justice League is that this DC flick looks the same as its predecessors: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. There are many fights, chases and explosions that were created from the fevered mind of a computer special effects specialist. There is a battle between good and evil, but the visuals are not concise enough to determine who is fighting who.

[Spoilers follow regarding Batman v Superman]. Justice League opens with a video featuring Superman (Henry Cavill) talking to a kid. Superman is asked what he likes about Planet Earth, but the video cuts out. As the credits roll, we learn that the world is grieving the death of Superman, based on the ending of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Batman (Ben Affleck) perceives a threat from outer space. He contacts Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him uncover the mystery of the three boxes. One box can be found in Wonder Woman’s hometown, while another box may be found under the sea in the ruins of Atlantis. While investigating the missing box of Atlantis, Batman meets Aquaman (Jason Momoa).

Kind of like Professor Xavier from the X-Men series (oops … that’s Marvel), Batman recruits two young people with mutant abilities. Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) is a half teen/half machine whose father (Joe Morton) tried to save his son’s life with Krypton machine scraps. Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) can run very fast, so he is called The Flash.

The character interaction is the best thing about Justice League, but unfortunately the formulaic plot and dull visuals mar emotional empathy. The account executives with Warner Brothers Studios need to fathom why their own Wonder Woman and Kong: Skull Island are just so much more fun to watch than Justice League.

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CLERGY CORNER: Two perspectives

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

Two cowboys come upon an Indian lying on his stomach with his ear to the ground. One of the cowboys stops and says to the other, “You see that Indian?”

Yeah,” says the other cowboy.

Look,” says the first one, “he’s listening to the ground. He can hear things for miles in any direction.”

Just then, the Indian looks up and says, “Covered wagon … about two miles away. Have two horses, one brown, one white. Man, woman, child and household articles in wagon.”

Incredible!” says the cowboy to his friend. “This Indian knows how far away they are, how many horses, what color they are, who is in the wagon and what is in the wagon. Amazing!”

The Indian looks up and says, “Ran over me about a half-hour ago.”

3315 years ago, G-d asked us if we would marry him. We had an extraordinary wedding ceremony, with great special effects. We were wowed. After the wedding, He said, “I have a few things I’d like you to take care of for me so, please … I’ll be right back.”

He hasn’t been heard from since — for more than 3315 years. He has sent messengers, messages, postcards — you know, writing on the walls … but we haven’t heard a word from Him in all this time.

Imagine, a couple gets married, and the man says to his new wife, “Would you make me something to eat, please? I’ll be right back.” She begins preparing. The guy comes back 3315 years later, walks into the house, up to the table, straight to his favorite chair, sits down and tastes the soup that is on the table. The soup is cold.

What will his reaction be? If he’s a wise man, he won’t complain. Rather, he’ll think it’s a miracle that the house is still there, that his table and favorite chair are still there. He’ll be delighted to see a bowl of soup at his place. The soup is cold? Well, yes, over 3000 years, soup can get cold.

Now, we are expecting Moshiach (Messiah). If Moshiach comes now, and wants to judge, what’s he going to find? Cold soup? He will find an incredibly healthy people. After 3000 years, we are concerned about being human, which means we are concerned about our relationship with G-d.

Yes, if Moshiach comes today, he’ll find that our soup is cold. We suffer from separation anxiety. We suffer from a loss of connection to our ancestors. We suffer a loss of connection even to our immediate family. The soup is cold. The soup is very cold. But whose fault is that? And who gets the credit for the fact that there is soup altogether?

We are a miracle. All we need to do is tap into it. We are the cure, not only for ourselves, but also for the whole world. So let Moshiach come now and catch us here with our cold soup, because we have nothing to be ashamed of. We are truly incredible. When G-d decided to marry us, He knew He was getting a really good deal.

This, then, is what Chassidism taught: A person is a child of G-d. A person is a prince. A person is the holiest of the holy. A person is truly one with G-d. And even when you look at yourself in the mirror and you feel disloyal, the truth is that your ultimate loyalty remains to G-d, to truth, to holiness, to purity.

Moshiach is ready to come!

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Goodwill to all

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I had never met David Eller in person; despite that, I’ve been writing a column for this paper since — actually I lost count, but my guess would be since the early 2000s when Judy Wilson was the editor. I’ve written about everything under the sun, except the thing I am most passionate about — politics. Pretty nearly early on, it was clear that my political beliefs were at the opposite pole from Mr. Eller’s and I was very politely asked to [refrain from expressing my personal opinion], which presented me with two options: to write about other “stuff” or to walk away on my “high horse” telling myself that I was standing up for my ‘principles.’ But, what was my most basic principle?

In truth it didn’t take long for me to come up with an answer, and the main belief that I had in common with Mr. Eller was that it is a good thing that we live in a capitalist society – and that citizens still had the freedom of choice. He owned the newspaper and had the right to set the rules. I was free to stay on his terms or go. I respected his wishes and stayed. I was free to express my opinions in other venues.

And in reading his obituary this past week, I was privileged to meet the human being who was more than his politics and who was such a positive and important influence on his community. This got me to thinking — continue thinking — how important it is for us, in this era of such turmoil, distrust and insidious vituperation on both sides — to cool it, to listen to opposing views as they are expressed with the same sincerity and passion as my own views and to respect our differences, without inserting the element of hatred. It is the “hatred” that is poisoning us.

We’re living in a cement mixer of societal changes and daily we are witnessing major differences between what is acceptable today and what was “then.” Some of it will be seen as good and some as bad, and even within that framework people will differ. And I so much believe that it is our differences that make us strong and innovative and creative as a society. A monolithic belief system creates a staleness that leads to decay. It is no accident that we are not a planet of clones.

And so, as the “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” season descends once again, it is the last part of that prayer that we need especially to heed, before the first part will ever become a reality i.e. “goodwill,” especially, toward the humans with whom we have what seems to be incompatible belief systems. We need to understand that people aren’t all one thing. Let’s look for other qualities that make up their character, qualities we can admire and respect.

I send my deepest condolences to the Eller and Observer family, and my everlasting hope for “Goodwill towards men” and that includes a heartfelt Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and good holiday time to all.

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After signings, Pompano players set on season

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After putting “pen to paper” five Pompano Beach High School seniors are hoping to make even more history.

Five baseball players from the school recently became the first early signees from the school to ink national letters-of-intent with Division 1 college programs.

Trevor Kniskern, who was named the Dairy Farmers Player of the Year in Class 5A, led the way signing with Pepperdine, while Dillon Abell (University of New Orleans), Chris Ajello (Asbury College), Chase Costello (Louisiana State University) and Mike Schuler (Florida Atlantic University) also signed to play at the next level during national early signing day in the school’s auditorium earlier this month.

The fab five from Pompano Beach have been setting records and making history since they arrived and hope to bring a state championship back to the school this season. The team came up a run short against Jacksonville Bolles in the Class 5A state semifinal game.

This is crazy,” said Kniskern, who helped Pompano Beach win their first ever regional final and reach the state’s final four. “I have been looking forward to this day my whole life. Ever since I started to play baseball, I always thought I have to make it to college and it is finally here. It is definitely a weight off your shoulders.

I am banking on going to school,” said the 17-year-old from Lighthouse Point. “I don’t think my draft stock is that high, but we will see in three years. It should be up there.”

Kniskern said he has learned a lot of communication skills with the team and said, “When I was talking to all of the different coaches for colleges, I got to work on my speaking abilities. I’ve learned a lot.”

Being exposed to a lot of tight situations on the mound, where he is the team’s ace, has helped in close ballgames. He finished 11-1 last season on the hill for the Tornadoes.

I have been able to channel my nervousness to do well on the field,” Kniskern said. “Last year, we fell short and we are going to use that as motivation to keep it going and stay focused on the goal and that is to win a state championship, and win the first ever one for Pompano Beach High School. I am very proud of this group of guys. we have been making history together and it is really exciting to be doing all of this with them.”

These are the most we’ve had up on this stage at one time on this day,” said Pompano Beach Athletic Director Jason Frey, as he addressed friends, family, peers and others during the 40-minute ceremony. He noted that the players on stage also excel in the classroom with a 3.75 combined cumulative GPA.

Pompano Beach’s Costello, 17, said he hardly slept the night before signing day. Ironic, since he said he’s dreamed of the moment ever since he started playing.

I was very anxious for this day to come,” Costello said. “Today was just amazing. It just came up so quick. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.”

Ajello joked of his recruiting trip to the Christian school.

It was a little weird because everyone was really nice,” Ajello said with a laugh. “One of my coaches, who played for Coach Giummule, said, ‘don’t worry about it, you’ll get used to it.’”

The biggest reaction and laughter of the morning came from Abell as he recounted the singing on the bus ride home after winning the regional title last year in addition to his reasons for his college choice.

I chose them (New Orleans) because they gave me the best offer,” Abell said, “and I wanted to be away from home.”

Two years ago, the Tornados won their first district title in 55 years and now have won two straight. The team won their first regional championship and also advanced to the state final four for the first time in school history.

It’s the first time we have ever had any early signees,” Giummule said. “This is the group I came in with, so that makes it a little more special. I came in with these guys and all five of these guys who have signed have been in the program all four years. It is all about them, their families and their dreams coming true.

Today is a sweet day and I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow,” Giummule said of the pending graduations of the players after the season. “A lot of hard work was put into this and I thank my booster club for making sure that this was set up and organized. I am appreciative of them. It is hard for their families. Good families produce good kids and this is the product of a good upbringing.”

The group was among the thousands of senior athletes around the country to sign their national letters-of-intent. Only football, soccer and men’s water polo athletes could not sign during the early signing period.

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FLICKS: The Star & The Man Who Invented Christmas

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As I slowly awoke Thanksgiving Day morning, I watched NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Day Parade, but grew weary of the Peacock network’s self promotion. Feeling nostalgic, I said, “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” and this Christmas classic appeared on my television screen. I was thrilled. As Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Mickey Mouse prepared to overthrow the villainous Barnaby Silas and the Boogey Men, the CW Channel saw fit to interrupt Victor Herbert’s soaring climatic musical score for viewers to stay tuned for five hours of a Friends marathon … nostalgia interruptus …

With a smaller marketing mix than last week’s champion, Coco, The Star is another animated motion picture that opened. This film is a religious movie that is not preachy. It is the story about Mary’s pregnancy and how she was guided by a bright star. The story of Mary’s nine months is seen through the eyes of a donkey named Bo and a mouse who is a witnesses.

The story is simple, but entertaining. Traditional Christmas carols are given modern update without sounding intrusive. Despite having a light touch, The Star has many tender moments about faith, hope, redemption, forgiveness and salvation. Patricia Heaton, Kris Kristofferson and Oprah Winfrey voice a cow, a mule and a camel, respectively; as Herod, Christopher Plummer’s voice is perfectly typecast.

Plummer is also delightfully typecast as Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Plummer does not actually portray Ebenezer Scrooge, as the character is a figment of Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens). Based on the book written by Les Standiford, The Man Who Invented Christmas details Dickens’ personal demons and inspirations that inspired his classic work, A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.

The film opens with Dickens on a successful world-wide tour to promote his acclaimed book, The Adventures of Oliver Twist. The film fast forwards three years and Dickens has written three bombs. While outwardly being optimistic, Dickens sees creeping debt with his housing expenditures.

With his back against the wall, Dickens strikes a deal with his publisher to produce a Christmas/ghost story in a mere six weeks. Holing up in his office and play acting each role, Dickens works feverishly on his novella. Unfortunately, family interruptions keep impinging on his craft, especially from his father (Jonathan Pryce), who unwittingly becomes the personification of Ebenezer Scrooge.

The Star, The Man Who Invented Christmas and Coco are three good family movies on the big screen these days. While The Star and Coco may induce the most tears and laughter, The Man Who Invented Christmas is thought-provoking about family, craft and charitable inspiration.

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CLERGY CORNER: Thanksgiving in Vermont

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

As we all made our plans for Thanksgiving Day this year, surely the remembrance of past Thanksgivings, some good and some perhaps not so good, seeped into our memories. I was raised on a farm in Vermont and Thanksgiving Day was a big deal. The growing season was at an end by November, and it was time to celebrate and thank our Lord for whatever bounty He had provided.

We had a small family farm on a country road that led to the top of George Hill where my grandfather had his dairy farm. He raised fodder grain and tended his cows, while my grandmother raised turkeys and chickens and tended her vegetable garden. The country road was dotted with family farms that made up a closely knit community. There were years of plenty and years of scarcity; years when our root cellars and storerooms were full, and years when we wondered how we would make it through the winter until spring. No matter what each year brought, our community would gather together on Thanksgiving Day, at my grandfather’s farm, and give thanks to our Lord and share whatever we had.

Thanksgiving Day always unfolded based on a two-part plan that never strayed far from our community’s deep love and dependence on our Lord to provide what we needed.

My grandmother came from a long line of country cooks. She knew what to do in the kitchen so her part in the plan was to organize the food preparation. She provided the roast turkey; my mother brought the stuffing which used homemade caraway-rye bread [the caraway seeds were picked from the school yard across the road from our farm] and sausage made from hogs raised by Barbara’s husband; mashed potatoes and parsnips from Gwendolen’s root cellar; creamed onions from Ethel’s storeroom and, the pièce de résistance, crab apple pie, using apples picked from the trees behind Helene’s farm house. When I wandered into the kitchen, I could always hear my grandmother reminding the cooks that our meal, in any given year, was based on the bounty provided by our Lord, which we raised and harvested with our own hands.

Part two of the plan involved my grandfather. In addition to being a dairy farmer, he was a country preacher. He built his own church next to his farmhouse, drove his buggy along that country road on Sunday mornings, picked up his parishioners, took them to his church, preached to them and took them back to their homes.

On Thanksgiving Day, he would gather all the kids into his parlor and quiz us on what we knew about our Lord and what we wanted to thank Him for. One Thanksgiving, he asked us to give voice to our most fervent prayer. My prayer was that Daniel, my favorite uncle, would come home safe and sound. You see, Uncle Dan was in the army and fighting a war in Europe. My grandfather’s answer was, “Our Lord hears and answers our prayers, but in His own time, and as is best suited for each of us.”

There was an empty chair at the dining room table that year. I asked my grandfather who it was for. He dropped his eyes and said, “Do you know Rabbi Eleazar from town? Well, he says the empty chair at his table is for the prophet Elijah. The rabbi says Elijah will bring news we need to hear from our Father in heaven.” Before the meal ended, there was a knock at the door. My grandfather asked me to see who was there. Spoiler alert – it was my Uncle Dan, handsomely dressed in his army uniform. I jumped into his arms and he carried me back to the dining room table amid the cheers from everyone and the broad grins on the faces of my grandparents.

They never fessed up to it, but I always suspected that my grandparents knew Daniel was coming home and choreographed it all to teach us a lesson about living in the hands of a benevolent God who hears and answers prayers, and provides for the well-being of his children. I pray this for each of you during this Thanksgiving season and always.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesdays and Sundays: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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Szklany second at state

Posted on 22 November 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Fittingly, Ryan Szklany is planning to study at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach. With a month to go in the cross country season, he was concerned that the gap between him and the top-ranked Class 1A runner in the state (Trevor Foley) may be a little too large. Szklany was nearly a minute behind Foley’s fastest time of the season.

The Highlands Christian Academy 17-year-old won six meets this year and showed at state that he had tremendous heart as he closed the gap considerably falling by just eight seconds with a personal best 15:55 clocking at the FHSAA Class 2A Cross Country State Championships at Apalachee Regional Park. Foley won the event in 15:47.25.

It was just a great finish for me,” said Szklany, who trimmed nearly 20 seconds off his previous best time. He will be running this Friday in the FACA Senior All-Star Meet. “The last month of the season I just kept putting in the work and training hard. It was a great way to end my senior year in cross country. I just went all out at the end and it paid off.”

Foley has a best time of 15:20, so Szklany knew he had to stay within striking distance at the state meet. Szklany’s time this season was 16:16.40, which was three seconds off the previous 16:13.0, which he ran in the Foot Locker South event in Nov. 2015.

Foley, who transferred from Nature Coast Tech (Class 2A) to Citrus Park Christian (1A) before last year’s track season, had defeated Szklany earlier this season.

In their lone head-to-head meeting, Foley won the Flrunners.com Invitational 18 Race of Champions Boys Division at Holloway Park in Lakeland on Sept. 30. Foley won the event with a 15:54.64 clocking, while Szklany covered the distance in 16:23.15. Szklany was third in the Jim Ryun Invitational by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (16:35.80).

This is good for confidence knowing that I could hold down a strategy,” Szklany added. “I was a little disappointed because I didn’t get a PR, but I was able to get my second fastest time of the season and I am happy with that.”

Szklany said he has started to return to the form he was at two years ago when he ran his personal best time of 16:13.00 towards the end of the season and won the district and regional championships.

I just think the development paid off,” Szklany said. “I think the training caught up a little bit and I starting to transition back into it. It really showed in the end.”

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FLICKS: Coco & The Man who Invented Christmas opens this weekend

Posted on 22 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Was he a good boy?” David Eller asked my mother while lunching at Duffy’s. Fortunately for me, Mom answered in the affirmative.

This exchange symbolizes my almost two decade professional relationship with my publisher and boss. Like my Grandfather, Dave G. Watson, Mr. Eller held positions of responsibility, yet he made a point of reaching out to his employees and celebrating their accomplishments. David Eller’s southern charm, loyalty to his employees and commitment to community philanthropy will be his legacy for many years. [See story about Mr. Eller on Pg. 1].

Opening this Thanksgiving weekend, Coco is a family friendly movie about memory and mourning. Despite what the mass marketing has revealed about a kid playing a cool looking guitar, this Disney/Pixar animated movie has much heart with an emotional roller coaster ride from tears to laughter.

When the opening credits roll, we learn about a man who runs away from his wife and child to pursue a musical career. For many generations, the family bans music from the household. As the generations pass through time, the great grandson Miguel feels the lure of music and keeps a guitar hidden.

When El Dia de Muertos approaches, Miguel is expected to participate in the annual family rituals. Instead Miguel tries to sneak off and enter a talent contest. The matriarch gets upset and smashes Miguel’s guitar. Angered, Miguel runs away from home and tries to enter the talent contest without his guitar. Told that he needs an instrument, Miguel sneaks into the tomb of the musical legend Ernesto de la Cruz and borrows his unique guitar. This theft causes a shift in the fabric of the universe and Miguel enters the land of the dead.

While this transition to the land of the dead provides the scariest portion of Coco, this film is full of beautiful amber, orange and gold imagery, which enhances this excellent story. The conflicts which drive the character motivation follow a logical progression, though with many surprises and character revelations. The character of Coco has limited screen time, but is the heart and soul of the movie.

Being a Disney/Pixar movie, Coco is filled with many visual details reminiscent of the award-winning Up. As Brave promoted Scottish folklore, Coco celebrates Mexican culture. The song, “Remember Me,” will be heard frequently during the awards season. The holiday cinema season is off to a fine start with the opening of Coco this season.

Based on Les Standiford’s book, The Man who Invented Christmas also opens this weekend. Starring Beauty and the Beast’s Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, the story details the author’s inspiration to write A Christmas Carol. Christopher Plummer portrays the curmudgeon who inspired Ebenezer Scrooge. The buzz is good for this film and if you cannot get a ticket for Coco, then The Man who Invented Christmas could be a fine substitute. Happy Thanksgiving!

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CLERGY CORNER: How to live a grateful life

Posted on 22 November 2017 by LeslieM

A Peanuts cartoon shows Snoopy looking over his Thanksgiving dinner in a bowl. In the first frame he remarks, “How about that?” In the second he is eating and thinking to himself, “Everyone is eating turkey today, but just because I’m a dog, I get dog food.” In the third frame he concludes, “Of course, it might have been worse…” And in the final frame he remarks, “I could have been born a turkey.” It’s an interesting commentary on our propensity to be dissatisfied with circumstances in life only to perhaps discover a reason to be grateful after all.

In this season of Thanksgiving, we should be reflecting on the many reasons why we ought to be grateful. If we are not careful, we may fall into the trap of focusing more upon our dissatisfactions than upon our blessings. Issues that result in frustrations, anxiety and worry abound in our lives, but we don’t have to be victimized by adversity. It is possible to develop a lifestyle of gratitude and thankfulness regardless of what we may face.

In Philippians 4:6, Paul advises believers to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” He essentially offers a formula for living a grateful life in three practical steps. “Be anxious for nothing” translates into “do not worry”. Eliminate, or at least diminish, anxiety, fretting and worry from your life. Anxiety has to do with mental anguish and excessive concern, which can cloud our ability to think clearly or act rationally.

Someone calculated the average person’s anxiety in the following manner: 40 percent of our anxiety is focused upon things that will never happen; 30 percent is focused on things from our past which cannot be changed; 12 percent is focused upon criticism from others, most of which is untrue; 10 percent concerns our health, which only worsens with stress; and only 8 percent of our anxiety is focused on real problems with which we must contend. A whopping 92 percent of our anxiety is entirely unnecessary! We simply need to learn how to manage the remaining 8 percent. Paul’s strategy? Just don’t worry!

Next, we are encouraged to pray about everything. Prayer is conversing with God, sharing our hopes and dreams, as well as our fears and concerns. Many therapists will attest to the benefit of talking through your problems and challenges. We all need to have people in our lives with whom we can consult when facing overwhelming circumstances. Who better to converse with than the all-knowing and all-powerful God in prayer. Psalm 55:22 offers a promise: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” An old hymn of the church adds, ‘take your burden to the Lord, and leave it there.’ And someone once remarked, “why worry when you can pray?”

Finally, Paul’s strategy for living a grateful life urges the practice of being thankful. Even when faced with dissatisfaction or disappointment in life, we can still find a reason to be grateful. Like Snoopy discovered, things may not always go our way but that doesn’t mean we have to be resentful. Rather, we can choose to be thankful.

In fact, there are three reasons why we can be grateful in adversity. It could have been worse than it is, there may be a life-lesson in the experience and it will work for your good. The Scriptures provide ample confirmation of this perspective. Believers live with the knowledge that God is ordering their steps and guiding them to perfection and maturity.

Enjoy this season as you spend time with family and friends. Consider the many reasons to be thankful and aim for a lifestyle of gratitude. Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything, and be thankful in all things. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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