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LARRY PHILLIPS: Texas House represents state’s diversity

The start of the legislative session is a very busy time for returning and new legislative members. While each member is here to do the same job of representing the needs of his or her constituency, each legislator’s background is unique. Through other members, legislators learn about issues facing Texans across the state that may be specific to their areas.

LET’S REMINISCE: A pond for all ages

Not far from our farmhouse was a small stock pond or tank that had been constructed to provide a watering hole for cattle and other farm animals. As a small child I thought of this pond primarily as the home of crawfish, frogs, and turtles. With a little home-cured bacon tied to a piece of string attached to a short stick, my little brother and I could catch a few unwary crawfish. We had no interest in cooking and eating them, however, so after keeping our catch in a jar or can for a short while, we’d return them to the pond. The big red ones, mean and ugly looking, were a more desirable catch than the smaller gray ones.

MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: The modern cross is as uncomfortable as Jesus’ cross

A simple cross, worn around someone’s neck can be so attractive. It is an appealing piece of jewelry; a sometimes expensive accessory that looks just right. We’ve come a long way from how the cross was understood in Jesus’ day. It was something that was expensive then, but could be easily had. All one had to do was go against the rule of Rome and it could be worn on one’s back until the bearer was pinned to it.

LARRY PHILLIPS: Visitors to the State Capitol

Throughout the session, many constituents travel to Austin to advocate for causes important to them and to meet with their elected officials. On Feb. 11, the Denison and Sherman Chambers’ leadership classes visited Austin, and this week we celebrated Fannin County Day. Both Groups heard from various state agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation, the Water Development Board, the Office of the Comptroller, and the Texas Historical Commission. In recent weeks I have also had the pleasure of meeting with members of ABATE, students from Grayson College, Texas Farm Bureau representatives, and several of our local educators. As the session continues, I look forward to meeting with other constituents.

REMINISCENT: Fishing for chicken

My father’s younger brother, Uncle Willie, lived about 30 miles away from our family farm in Zimbabwe, Central Africa. He was a big man. His 400-pound, 5-foot-10 frame, with a shiny baldhead, big walrus moustache and broad smiling face was always a picture of well being and friendliness. Whenever he laughed, which was often, his protruding stomach comically bounced up and down. His jovial personality and his love for fishing made him my favorite uncle.

MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Countdown to Easter

Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of another Lenten season. For those who don’t follow the church year calendar, Lent is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, a season of marking time, a countdown to Easter. People who give up something for this penitential season are certainly counting the days. You watch the clock, waiting for time to pass, maybe even marking the days off your calendar until it is over. Perhaps you suffer a little because of what you have given up, which is to be a reminder of how much Jesus suffered for you and all He endured to accomplish your salvation.

Is the GOP presidential nomination for sale?

Unbeknownst to most normal, hard-working Americans, the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, recently held an organizing soirée in Palm Springs, Calif. Attendance was invitation only to multi-million and billionaire friends of the brothers, with four notable exceptions. Also invited were Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Contests and Promotions

The Wedding Expo
The Wedding Expo
Herald Democrat Wedding Expo 2015

DON JAMES: Hope allows us to endure

Our bodies have been built to withstand an enormous amount of pressure. We have been made to be resilient. We can survive the heat of the topics and the cold winds of winter. We can go through periods of illness, financial hardships, domestic disappointments, unemployment and loss of someone dear if don’t lose the one essential ingredient: hope.

From a student’s perspective, free community college

In the State of The Union Address, President Obama focused on empowering the middle-class economy as a way to strengthen the overall well-being of the country. Educating more Americans is an important piece of that. Obama announced his plan for Americans to have the opportunity to attend a community college as a full-time student and not have to worry about paying for tuition. Tuition at a community college would be free. On average, this new plan would save a full-time student $3,800 per year.

MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Through the wilderness

I want to begin with a question: If Jesus Christ was the perfect, sinless, Son of God, why would He need to go through a wilderness temptation experience before He ever began His ministry? Now I believe Jesus was sinless and perfect, but I also know that God doesn’t do things the way you and I would do them. His ways are not my ways, and I thank God for that.

MICAELA HOOPS: The people should decide the fate of the Keystone XL

Politicians and environmentalist jangle the bells and whistles on the Keystone XL pipeline tooting the jobs it would create or the climate disaster it would ensure. However, behind the clamor lies the symbolic fight worth mention: The Keystone XL pipeline is a moment in American history about who decides what to do with the land and who has the right to it.