Friday, October 18, 2019

The Abundant Love Project & How We Shared the Love

The Community Church in Ada recently gifted funds to each member and visitor, including children, of our church due to a windfall received from the sale of some land. The idea is for each person to decide how to bless someone/someplace with the money. 

There are the easy give-aways: hand to the next panhandler you see on the street. It would make his/her day but I'm not sure how meaningful that exchange would be. (If anyone did just that, I'm not judging. :-) ) Writing a check to your favorite charity would certainly bless that charity but you probably already support that charity so what would make this donation any different?

When we heard about a project that James McNorton was developing in the Heartside neighborhood, we were immediately intrigued.

Homeless since May of 2017, James lives on the street because he cannot tolerate the local shelters. (I'm just leaving that there for now.) He also wants to maintain his status/label as a homeless artist. His mission of being able to help others is based on that. He can usually be found selling his handmade cards in front of the Children's Museum. Yesterday we took a walk and he showed me where he usually hangs out and where he stashes some of his things in random outside locations (those will not be divulged).
James remembers how he felt when he was suddenly on the streets of what was then an unfamiliar city with nothing but the clothes on his back. Those are the people for whom he now looks. Lost and desperate, the newly homeless have a look that James knows. If they receive no immediate help, they may become sexual prey and/or fall into the hands of drug dealers who are there to 'help' them dull the pain.

James went to local organizations/churches and started collecting goods, information, and monetary donations to create a resource backpack that he could distribute.
The newly homeless are already carrying what they own and this backpack easily slips on.  Contents vary slightly depending on gender. In a very traditional move, the pink bags are for women/girls and blue bags are for men/boys. :-) 
Food vouchers, bus passes, advice on where to go and where to stay, toiletries, water, and more, provide what James calls a 'comfort pack'. The cost to put together one pack is $30.00. And that is where our church gift will go.

Heartside Ministry is where I first met James and Heartside is one of his home bases, the other being Fountain Street Church. The bags are stored at both places (as well as non-disclosed locations) and James picks one up when he needs one. Heartside is taking donations for his project, earmarking the funds for the backpacks.
We had more time to talk at the Heartside Gala last week and that cinched our decision.
You won't find a person with a bigger heart than James McNorton. One of his favorite phrases is "it's all about the love" and this man lives that out everyday.
Here's a video of James from Wood TV taken in December of 2017:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Meijer Gardens Today ~ 10/15/19

Fall colors are popping and mums are blooming so it was a perfect day to visit. The mum displays were amazing.
The Japanese Garden is always a must, any time of the year.
By making a full circle through the gardens, more fall beauty was revealed.
The willow tree roots are continuing to come up through this path. Maintenance is needed.
When the summer concert series is over, so is summer.
Sometimes the small things can be the most interesting.
On the way back inside, I found this rhododendron blooming. Now. Apparently some rhodos bloom twice, depending on the weather conditions.
More mums...
There was one thing left to see and that was the new exhibit, 'The Womb,' by Rebecca Louis Law. It's cool and creepy at the same time, with an audible heartbeat resounding throughout the room. And you can walk into and through the 'womb.' Everything is made out of fresh or dried plant material.
And I almost forgot the pumpkins. Head to the farm to see them.
It was a lovely day, in spite of the drizzle. Until next time, FMG!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Styx at Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater ~ 8/9/19

We saw Styx at this venue back in 2015 and enjoyed it very much. Unlike many older bands, Styx changes the set list. And this year they even had new music to play. In 2017 the band produced a new studio album, "The Mission," its first one since 2003. Four numbers from that album were interspersed into the night's line-up. And no one seemed to mind. The songs were interesting and likable. You have to respect a band that is still creating music and not just riding the gravy train of old hits, even if those hits are fantastic.
Nineteen songs were performed including two encores, Mr Roboto and Renegade. I found an interesting side note about Styx adding Mr Roboto back in their concerts as of last year. Styx states that repeated fan demand brought it back. Dennis DeYoung is gloating and posted a weird rant about it but that's for another story.
The set list was posted on the band's instagram account and reads as follows (* songs from The Mission):
Gone Gone Gone*, Blue Collar Man, Grand Illusion, Lady, Radio Silence*, Snowblind, Red Storm*, Light Up, Fooling Yourself, Rockin' the Paradise, Suite Madam Blue, Miss America, Crystal Ball, Pieces of eight, The Outpost*, Too Much Time, Come Sail Away, and the two encores. 
Back in the 1960s, twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo started playing music with their neighbor, Dennis DeYoung. They later called themselves the Tradewinds, which morphed into Styx in 1972. John Panozzo died in 1996 but Chuck still tours part-time with the band, and they brought him out tonight.
The other band members were Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, James Young, Ricky Phillips, and Todd Sucherman (Todd was voted #1 Rock Drummer in the world by Modern Drummer Magazine). They have a distinct sound together and still bring great energy to their performances, even after so many years.
With a repertoire as large as theirs, Styx is bound to miss someone's favorite and tonight, for me, it was "Boat on the River." Written by Tommy Shaw and featuring him and his mandolin, the song is worth looking up on YouTube. The two photos below are from the 2015 concert.
But then again, Tommy Shaw is my favorite band member. His voice and his musical skills are incredible. Which isn't to take anything away from the rest of the band. They are all talented and professional musicians.
Until next time, Styx!

Just one note for Meijer Gardens: they may want to update their almond supply :-)
Cheers to another summer concert!