The warm summer winds started to blow with a deeper purpose. The umbrellas were whipping around but they were too securely planted in the sand to blow away. The white-capped waves were growing larger as the sky was darkening. You could hear the unmistaken rumbles of thunder and even see beautiful lightning over the horizon. It was a beautiful scene but it also served as a warning that we would have to leave the beach soon.
A storm was brewing. We were not overly concerned because they are almost a daily occurrence on the white sand beaches of Florida. We thought it may pass over, but no such luck.
The bottom soon fell out and it left hundreds of beach-goers scrambling for shelter. Our family found a small place located under the rickety eaves of a beach snack shack. We were still slightly rained on but it offered enough protection.
Just as we were settling in and waiting for the storm to pass I noticed a mother pushing a wheel chair through the sand while her arms were loaded with beach bags. As if that wasn’t hard enough she also had kids with her. I was becoming anxious for them not knowing where they would go. In our tiny shelter there was literally no room left, even with everyone huddled tightly together.
I watched her huge smile as she struggled with the chair, the kids and the bags. It was a physical demand for her but you could tell she was full of joy and had done this a time or two.
Being the polite person that I was, I relocated my party into the rain to let the family enjoy our shelter, what little there was. After a few minutes of shuffling it seemed as though the space expanded where we could all fit. We were shoulder to shoulder and still half drenched but we made it work.
We gathered towels to cover our new friend’s husband in the chair and we began to get acquainted with each other.
We became fast friends and had an immediate connection that could only be ordained from above. She was a local who was enjoying a day at the beach with her family and meeting church family later for a baptism in the Gulf. As many times as I have visited the beach I have never witnessed a baptism, weddings yes, but not a holy dunking.
She shared their intense story about how her beloved husband became wheelchair bound.
She went on to say that he had not always been in a chair and with God’s help he would not be there forever. My new friend was very candid about the fact that the accident was caused after a night of reckless partying. She was very aware that she could have lost her husband that night but God had other plans.
Not once in our conversation did she talk about herself. I always put myself in someone’s situation and wonder how I would respond. This would more than likely be a permanent pity party situation for me. But, she just talked about how good God was to her family and has seen them through so much. She was excited about their future and knew they had an awesome testimony that would eventually help others one day.
She also knew she was still living their testimony and God wasn’t done yet.
We became friends on Facebook before we parted ways as the storm began to pass. I have been able to follow her family’s journey and ministry. Her husband is no longer completely bound to his chair. He can walk with the assistance of a cane. Watching the video of him walking felt like I was watching one of my own family members. It was so special.
There were so many lessons learned on this day. My new friend was living what most people would call a nightmare but she never complained and only spoke in a positive nature. Here was this lady with infectious joy that was so sincere. You would never know she was the main caregiver for a handicapped husband and young children. She was active in her church. She worked a full-time job too. Last, but not least, she was not a complainer and chose to find the positives in her storms.
What started out as an unpredictable stormy and gloomy day at the beach ended with much light and families being baptized in Gulf at sunset. God will shelter you from the storms of life and if you keep your eyes and your heart open you may meet some really amazing people while you are being sheltered.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge, in the shadow your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” – Psalm 57:1
Rhodes Realty held a Success Seminar on June 26 to meet with all of its agents and discuss where the company is now and where it’s headed in the near future.
Chief Operations Officer Mario Fox discusses with agents the “Who Rhodes Is” as a Team/Company. He also talked about how to use Technology, Marketing, and Community concepts (TCM).
“The vision of our leaders and the successful stories of our Top Agents like Lulu David, Kathy Richmond, and Michael Deville made me excited about wanting to participate in the effort of being successful for not just me, but my family and clients,” he shared.
Rhodes knew the Covid pandemic was something the real estate industry had never encountered before, so they had to think of a creative way to meet with all their agents with the goal of providing learning experiences and motivation during these uncertain times.
“I love the support we receive from the Rhodes brokers and owners. They’re always wanting to better the brokerage,” said Lafayette Team Leader Lulu David. “All the Lafayette team really enjoyed the meeting and the party!”
Rhodes agents were happy to see that Covid-19 hadn’t affected the company’s production goals and that everything is on track to actually shatter some of those goals.
Guest speaker Amy Jones Kane, CEO and Founder of Burning Stick Creative, discussed the importance of self branding, and how to leave an everlasting impression. Her company is a full service advertising agency based out of Lafayette. There was also a panel of three of Rhodes’ top producing agents. This gave other/newer agents the opportunity to ask questions they’ve always wanted to in an open setting and gain as much knowledge as possible.
“Sitting in a room with men and women from all walks of life who have achieved such great success, and knowing you are a member of the team and your turn is coming is like pouring gas on a fire, said new Shreveport Agent Carlos Hartwell.
Fox said agents left the seminar motivated and excited to grow their brands and their business.
I’m looking forward to the next year seminar so that I can be a contributor to the Production Growth of 2020,” said Monroe Agent Donna Osborne. “It was pointed out that we are at $51.9 million this year already versus last year at $83.1 million. I’m looking forward to where we are going especially in my local area of Jackson Parish.”
At the heart of Rhodes success are its leaders Mario Fox, Rodrick McIntosh, James Rhodes and Justin Rhodes, who are professional and career focused for the company and their teams. They meet every Tuesday to discuss “How to make Rhodes Realty” better.
For more information call 318-238-3733. Rhodes Realty locations include Natchitoches, Shreveport, Lafayette, Alexandria, Pineville, Monroe and Ruston.
Sometimes I hear people say, “I’m just lucky to live in America.” It reminds me of an ad in a newspaper for a lost dog.
LOST: One dog. Brown hair with several bald spots. Right leg broken from being run over, left hip injured from dog fight; right eye missing and left ear chewed off. Recently castrated. Answers to the name “Lucky.”
That dog doesn’t sound very lucky to me. And I would not say that I’m lucky to live in America. I would actually say that I’m blessed to live in America! We all know the country has plenty of problems and it’s far from perfect. Someone recently shared with me that instead of praying for God to bless us, our prayer should be for God to forgive us. He is definitely in the process of changing us! But despite all the problems, America is still an awesome Nation filled with amazing people! In so many different ways, God’s grace has been with us throughout our 244 year history.
A great song that many enjoy on July 4th is “America the Beautiful.” The lyrics were written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893. Miss Bates was an English professor at Wellesley College and had taken a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado to teach a summer session at Colorado College. I’m not sure of all the specific details, but during her train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado, she had the opportunity to see much of the beautiful landscape of America. In her journal, she described the sight of many rivers and lakes, grain fields of America’s heartland and the majestic mountains of Colorado.
She wrote the words to the poem after standing on the top of Pikes Peak and experiencing an unforgettable view of the Great Plains. The Congregationalist, a weekly journal first published the poem on July 4, 1895. The words remind us that we are far from lucky, we are blessed!
“O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountains majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!”
The second stanza reminds us that we need God to “mend our every flaw.” I hope we all enjoy celebrating America this weekend. Take some time to read or sing “America the Beautiful.” Even better, lift up a prayer for our nation. Ask God to mend our every flaw and provide His goodness and grace from sea to shining sea!
The Natchitoches Parish School Board would like to congratulate Mr. Dale Skinner on his retirement as NPSB Superintendent. With more than 51 years of service, Mr. Skinner has dedicated his life to aiding students and being an inspirational leader in education. After acting as a longtime basketball coach and serving as Natchitoches Central High School’s principal, Mr. Skinner stepped into the role of Superintendent and has continued to be an integral part of our Parish for more than 6 years.
We can’t thank him enough for the hard work, commitment and dedication he has shown for our school district. His contributions to our community will always be valued and remembered.
Mr. Skinner will also be celebrating a birthday this weekend so if you see him around, be sure to wish him a happy birthday and congratulations.
The racist still has one significant advantage over the black person. From a block away the racist can usually visually identify black skin. This gives him or her time to formulate an attack or get a shot off. The simple truth is, in America, skin color is a kind of currency. This strange currency system works something like this: the closer your skin color is to white, the higher the value it will be given in the society. However, the closer your skin color it is to black, the less value society will place upon you. History provides the evidence. In the 18th Century, politicians passed legislation that said blacks slaves were each to be considered 3/5 of a man. For much of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, comics and actors painted their faces grotesquely black and ridiculed blacks. This was so socially acceptable that the first movie with sound—1927’s The Jazz Singer— featured the star Al Jolson, singing to his “Mammy” while in blackface. Pick up practically any dictionary and look up the words “white” and “black” and you will generally discover that the word white is linked to positive values and black is linked to negative ones.
The tradition of devaluing blackness in America and in Western Culture has been handed down throughout the generations. When you devalue a people you can treat them brutally while feeling little or no guilt. That is why the nation could in earlier eras feel comfortable profiting from slavery, then Jim Crow racial segregation and today still profits from more subtle forms of racism. But please do not jump to the conclusion that this one of those articles meant to blame white people alone for racist attitudes towards black skin. No. This article is meant to blame all of us. I am including myself in that. We all are guilty on some level of at least sometimes, having a negative reaction to black skin. That is because we have all been programmed to do so. In fact, our negative relationship to black skin is so embedded into our hearts and minds, we do not often realize it until an event reveals it or it slips out. For instance, in 1954, a psychological experiment by Kenneth and Mamie Clark, African American psychologists, used white dolls and black dolls to show the effects of racial segregation on black children. They gave groups of black children a black doll and white doll and allowed them to play with them. Then they asked the children to choose which doll was more like them. The black children predominately identified with the white doll. When asked to identify with the black doll, some children even ran out of the room crying— disturbed by the notion of having to identify with the black one. Today perhaps the negative reaction to black skin is not so easy to spot. But it is there. Be honest. If you were to turn on your TV and 95% of the people in the shows and commercials were black, would you change the channel? And if you kept flipping and realized all the channels were all black, would you call the station? Point is, we expect white people to be the dominant image in America. All of us. Even those who consider themselves anti-racist. Over the past months, multicultural groups of young protesters have been staging protests against violence against African Americans at the hands of police officers. They may protest as a multiracial group, but chances are they will return to neighborhoods with very little or no racial integration. And what music do you think many of these young protestors probably listen to? Would you really be surprised to hear the N word in many of the hip hop or rap songs pulsing through the earphones of these young people? In fact, when you hear the word “Nigger” today, is it most likely coming from the mouth of a young black person?
Solving police brutality will take good ideas and reforms. Although I must say, I do not think it is a good idea to defund the police. It will hurt blacks in crime-infested, poor neighborhoods. Solving the nation’s problem with black skin requires more than programs. It will take honesty, sober reflection and self-examination from every one of us as much as it requires outrage at tragic viral videos. You do not have to put your knee on a black man’s neck until he dies to react in a racist way. You can practice it more subtly, by noticing a company competing for to get your business is black-owned and determining they are not ready, based on nothing more than “feelings”. Or perhaps, you might hear the words “my black friend” slip out of your mouth before you can retrieve them. What is a black friend? Or a white one? Why the modifier? Or a young black rapper can deposit a large paycheck in his bank account, ignoring the fact that the hit song that made that money demeans the black community and uses filthy language, including the N word—adding to stereotypes of blacks. Yes, black lives matter. But black skin still matters too, even though it should not. How do we arrive at a place where it does not matter at all? A few thousand years ago, in Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus graciously gave those around him a simple formula that should help: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. 2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself. He said on these two commandments, basically the whole Bible is based. When we surrender to Jesus, we will begin to love God. When we love God, he transforms our hearts and helps us become new creatures. His standard of morality becomes our own. When we are transformed in this way, we are then empowered with a Holy Spirit that allows us to love others in the way that we usually love ourselves. When we love others, we are then much less likely to put them in a deadly chokehold or to discriminate against them. The Scriptures place a great value on love. It even says, God is love (1 John 4:8). It also warns that we cannot say we love God, whom we have never seen, if we cannot love our neighbor, who we see every day (1 John 4:19-20).
At the start of this article I put forth a scene of a racist who hated someone the split second he could see the color of his skin. How do we stop this racist? In the classic TV Show “Leave it to Beaver” Beaver’s dad told him one way you can stop a bully is by not becoming like him. We can stop that racist by not becoming like him and by honestly examining our own negative attitudes towards black skin. And yes, that applies even if your skin, like mine is black.
“White people and black people have one thing in common. Neither of them like black people.” –Comedian Chris Rock
“If you’re white, you’re alright. If you’re brown, you can stick around. But if you are black, get back!” –20th Century childhood rhyme, once used by children in the black community
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” –Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:12
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.
Natchitoches Central High School will conduct the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on Saturday, July 11, 2020. The ceremony will begin at 9:00 AM at Turpin Stadium on the Northwestern State University campus.
Guests will enter the stadium on the west (home) side of the stadium beginning at 8:00 AM. Graduates will enter on the east (visitor) side of the stadium at 9:00 AM.
All efforts to present the Class of 2020 with the prestige of former graduating classes from previous years have been made. The faculty and administration of NCHS are extremely proud of our graduates. This has been a very challenging year and much has been asked of our seniors as they continued the efforts they have exhibited throughout their four years of high school.
Due to Louisiana currently being in Phase II of the COVID-19 restrictions, Turpin Stadium will be limited to 50% capacity. Guests will be required to have a ticket to water the stadium. Each Senior will be issued nine tickets on Wednesday, July 8th. This will ensure compliance to Phase II requirements and ensure that we may continue as planned with the ceremony.
Graduates will need to report to the corridor of the visitor’s side of Turpin Stadium no later than 8:30 AM on the morning of graduation. Only graduates will be allowed on the visitor’s side of the stadium. Graduates will need to park by the tennis courts and walk up the hill to the visitor gate.
After the entire ceremony is complete, all guests and graduates should promptly exit the stadium. All are encouraged to practice social distancing and the wearing of a face mask is preferred. Families should maintain distance from other groups during the exiting of Turpin Stadium. Administration of NSU asks that all attendees leave campus after the conclusion of the graduation ceremony
The Natchitoches Parish Government’s Office of Community Services hosted its annual Senior Companion Recognition on June 19. This year’s recognition had a different feel to it, as the continuing spread of Covid-19 limited the ability of the Senior Companion volunteers to congregate in one place. The OCS staff was determined to recognize the valuable work of the volunteers, though, and so they organized the first ever drive-by Senior Companion Recognition.
“Normally a Senior Companion Recognition involves a full program and a sit-down lunch, however this wasn’t an option”, said Linda Jordan, Senior Companion Program Director. “We wanted to recognize our Seniors Companions for their diligent work over this past year and still keep everyone safe.” The Senior Companions paraded through the OCS parking lot as Ms. Jordan, OCS Executive Director Sharon Harris, Senior Corp Advisory Board Member Betty Smith, and OCS Secretary Natasha McHenry gave each Senior Companion a lunch, certificate, and thank you token.
The Senior Companion Program is comprised of volunteers aged 55 and over. These volunteers provide assistance and friendship to seniors who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. The program aims to keep seniors independent longer and provide respite to family caregivers.
If you would like to get involved and become a Senior Companion volunteer, please contact our Office of Community Services at 318.357.2220
The Third Annual Louisiana Young Professionals Conference is scheduled to take place July 6-9, 2020. 2020 will be the year of adaptation, innovation, and creativity. The conference has pivoted to a virtual format to accommodate for professional development during the pandemic. This event features a line-up of speakers that will provide insight on topics that all professionals need during the current climate through-out the week with daily, virtual sessions at 8 AM and 12 PM.
Another LYPC 2020 pivot is the difference in pricing. The price per session, including the keynote and a virtual networking event, is $10. A bundled registration option with all seven sessions and the keynote is available for $60. All sessions will be recorded. Registrants will have access to all sessions that they registered for, to re-watch and continue to learn from.
Speaker Session Schedule:
Monday, July 6 Keynote, Brent Henley, The Pyramid Group – 8 AM -9:30AM: “The neXus Experience”: Modern networking is broken and is centered around rooms full of people who only want to see what they can “get” from you. “relationship selling” is failing, too.
Breakout Session 1 , Brent Henley, The Pyramid Group – 12 PM – 1:30 PM: “How to Make the YP Experience More Meaningful”
Tuesday, July 7 Breakout Session 2, Amy Thibodeaux, Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce – 8 AM -9:30AM: “Branding On A Budget”
Breakout Session 3, Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program Panel – 12 PM – 1:30 PM: “The Startup and Grow Process”
Wednesday, July 8 Breakout Session 4, Tori Thomas, United Way of Northwest Louisiana – 8 AM -9:30AM: “The Professional Benefits of Volunteering”
Breakout Session 5, Larkin Simpson – 12 PM – 1:30 PM: “We Make Good Stuff: Crafting a message of authenticity in times of uncertainty”
Thursday, July 9 Breakout Session 6, Kim Gallow, the KKG Foundation; Claire Prymus, the Ben D. Johnson Foundation; De’Andrea Sanders, The Coach De Foundation – 8 AM -9:30AM: “Passion Projects”
Breakout Session 7, Marie Centanni, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry – 12 PM – 1:30 PM: “Thinking of Running for Office? Here’s What You Need to Know”
SARASOTA, Florida – When collegiate softball shut down in early March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northwestern State softball players assumed they wouldn’t pick up a bat until the following fall.
But two Lady Demons found a summer opportunity to continue the sport they love – even at a time when hardly any athletes are participating in live sports.
Fifth-year senior Emma Hawthorne and junior Jensen Howell have played in the Florida Gulf Coast League for more than two weeks.
“It’s really exciting just to put a uniform on,” said Hawthorne, who is chronicling her experience for The Longview (Texas) News Journal. “The seniors thought their career was done when they cancelled the season.
“I knew this league would be a great opportunity to play, and with our season cut short, I wanted to make up for lost playing time. This will definitely help us get ready for next year.”
Hawthorne is playing both catcher and third base, positions in which she has started more than 50 games each at NSU.
The position versatility is helpful, especially when Hawthorne is catching her NSU teammate pitcher Howell on Team Impact.
“Having Emma there as a catcher has made it a lot easier from the pitching side of things because she knows me as a person, and we’re comfortable together,” said Howell, who discovered the league on social media. “We push each other and hold each other to high standards.
“It was rough when we first got here in terms of conditioning and getting used to softball again, but after two weeks, we feel like we’re back to normal.”
A sense of normalcy is the pervading feeling around the seven-team league, whose players are all staying at the same hotel in Sarasota and will play until late July.
Hawthorne said temperatures are checked daily, fans social distance in the stands and players wear masks in public.
“The league is taking precautions, such as sanitizing the dugout after each game,” Hawthorne said. “I’m definitely thankful for this league because we’re playing when so many others aren’t.
“Playing against girls from all types of schools has definitely made me better, and it opens my eyes to other ways of playing the game.”
Hawthorne and Howell face players from Power Five schools like Florida, Oklahoma and Washington mixed with other Division I members as well as junior Division II, Division III, junior college and NAIA.
“No matter where other players come from, it’s a great chance to compete,” Howell said. “You want to prove that you belong just as much as anybody does.
“You make yourself better with each pitch and repetition you take.”
Unlike summer wood bat leagues for baseball, summer softball is just beginning to take off.
NSU coach Donald Pickett said gathering enough players in the same place has been an impediment to widespread summer softball leagues, but he sees these types of summer leagues becoming the norm in future seasons.
“With the shortened regular season, I’m glad they are getting the opportunity to play and improve themselves against great competition,” Pickett said. “It’ll definitely pay off for them and for us.
“It puts them ahead of the curve since most players will have a six-month layoff from competitive softball going into our fall workouts, so them being able to have access to practice facilities and live competition will be a huge advantage for them.”
While Hawthorne has experienced Division I softball for the past four years, Howell made 12 appearances in a shortened 2020 after missing the fall season and playing in the junior college ranks in 2019.
“This is especially helpful for someone in Jensen’s situation because she can continue to get back into game shape and carry a big load for us next year,” said Pickett of a pitcher who compiled an 8-3 mark before the season ended.
“I think summer leagues like this will only continue to grow, and it took off this year because so many kids were looking for opportunities to work out and play when regular access to gyms, facilities and resources weren’t available.”
The City of Natchitoches would like to notify the public that the northbound lane of East Fifth Street from Stephens Avenue to Henry Boulevard will be closed to traffic starting Monday, July 6 for Atmos Energy to perform gas main maintenance.
Maintenance will occur at the intersections of Henry Ave. and East Fifth, Powhatan Alley and East Fifth., as well as Stephens Ave. and East Fifth. The planned maintenance is expected to last three days.
During this lane closure, traffic may use the southbound lane following flagger instructions and signage as well as exercising caution in the area.
For more information, please contact the Mayor’s office at (318) 352-2772.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from July 3 to July 5.
During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be on patrol with heightened awareness for impaired boat operators on the state’s waterways.
“We are always on the lookout for impaired boat operators, but this weekend it will be more of a focused effort,” said Major Rachel Zechenelly, the state’s boating law administrator. “We know this will be a busy weekend and we want people to have fun on the waterways. However, we please ask everybody on the water to wear a personal flotation device and have a sober operator.”
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Nationwide, alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents with alcohol playing a role in 23 percent of all deaths on the water. Louisiana had 20 boating fatalities in 2019, with alcohol playing a role in three fatalities or 15 percent.
Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe. In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.
Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.
In Louisiana, a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle while impaired. First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.