These are partial images from photos taken by a website camera that was set up to record the demolition of Winter Haven’s unique Orange Dome and initial construction on The Landings retail development. (BlueOx Inc./Tucker Construction Co.)

It’s a bit sad to think of Winter Haven without its Dome

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — For my newspaper, I wrote a few years back that it seemed like the tapestry of Winter Haven, the patchwork of things, places and events that made up the community quilt, was being torn apart.

The editorial was the result of news that the Florida Citrus Showcase, the organization that put on the annual Florida Citrus Festival and Polk County Fair, was going belly up financially, bringing an abrupt end to the long-running celebration of citrus.

Other things contributed to the commentary, including struggles at the landmark Cypress Gardens theme park, the announced end of spring training baseball in Winter Haven, the damage from back-to-back-to-back hurricanes, citrus groves that were disappearing to make way for overdevelopment and a drought that threatened the city’s signature Chain of Lakes.

The theme of the torn-up community quilt came to mind again the other day with a reminder that the iconic Orange Dome, the original home of the Florida Citrus Showcase on Cypress Gardens, really was doomed and that its demolition is imminent. Given what we know, the unique, mushroom-shaped building with the orange roof could be rubble in a matter of weeks, if not days.

I’m not upset that the Dome is going away, just a bit sad — and sad that its demise will come with barely a whimper from the community and those who appreciate its historical and cultural relevance to Winter Haven.

I don’t have greatly fond memories of the Orange Dome, but I do have memories. The first time I set foot in it was in early 1973 or 1974, when, as a 12- or 13-year-old, I attended my very first Citrus Festival. In my newspaper sports-writing days, I covered a couple of amateur boxing matches there. I was also there for a few expos and community events, such as the Winter Haven Festival of Trees and a spring training welcoming party for the Cleveland Indians. The last time I was inside the musty, badly air-conditioned and acoustically poor building was in 2004 or 2005, when my employer at the time, the News Chief newspaper, had a booth during the run of the wintertime Citrus Festival.

Unlike the departure of the Cleveland Indians in 2008, when the city of Winter Haven had no team at the ready to replace them for Major League Baseball spring training at Chain of Lakes Stadium, there are big plans for the Orange Dome site.

The city has sold the property (for about $881,500) for the first phase of development of The Landings commercial-retail development and, with the property sale, automatically expands its tax base. Instead of spending taxpayer money on expensive Dome upkeep and landscaping, the city will derive annual taxes from the property and taxes from the businesses that locate there. And area residents, of course, will have more choices for shopping and dining.

What’s interesting about this commercial development, starting with the Dome demolition, is that everyone can watch it without leaving home. The contractor, Tucker Construction Co., is working with a company called OxBlue Inc. to record the construction progress on a cellular-based camera located just off Cypress Gardens Boulevard and pointing toward the Dome. Images are taken by the camera every 10 minutes and posted to an Internet website for the world to see.

At this writing (around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7), the construction site camera was showing equipment being moved into place around the Dome.

Yes, it’s sad, but as many would say, “That’s progress.”

UPDATE: As of about 9:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, Winter Haven’s Orange Dome, the former Florida Citrus Showcase, no longer was standing. Less than 50 years old, it was a pile of rubble. It was — and is — history.

There might be hope yet for Cuban people

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I saw an article in a Euro-centric newspaper that Cuba, with the Marxist Castro brothers Fidel and Raúl getting older, more mellow and less influential, appears to be on a path to political liberalization, opening a way to the return of many Cuban exiles in this country and in others.

(The article was complete with a photo of Cubans in and around some 1950s-model U.S.-made cars that thy somehow keep running.)

I’m not fond of the U.S. concept of liberalism, but in the case of Cuba and its poor, oppressed and downtrodden people, liberalization away from Marxism and communism would be a very good thing.

Perhaps soon the United States will lift the now-silly economic and trade embargo that has been in effect as a form of punishment and political statement against Cuba since the Kennedy administration. I’ve advocated dropping the embargo for at least 15 years.

The embargo actually has lost its teeth through the years with the passage of several pieces of U.S. legislation that ease elements of the sanctions and create trade opportunities in Cuba for a variety of American businesses and industries.

On a related topic, and at the risk of sounding a bit colonial, I’ve always thought that Cuba would’ve made a nice additional pickup for these United States. After all, we did occupy it at one time (Guantanamo Bay is still ours), and the naturally beautiful island nation is only about 90 miles off the coast of Florida — certainly a lot closer to contiguous states than Hawaii.

But hold on there, folks. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’m not advocating giving up Hawaii for Cuba. Who says we couldn’t have had both?

Is abortion ‘right’ worth a celebration?

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A brief newspaper story I came across this week both saddened and angered me.

The story was announcing a Jan. 14 event in Tampa called “Roe on the Rocks: Celebrate Choices,” a “celebration” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s contorted 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that led to legalized and almost limitless abortion.

Lucky for those who attended, the free event included refreshments.

The use of the word “celebrate” is what really got to me.

My thinking is you celebrate birthdays. You celebrate wedding anniversaries. You celebrate the Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s Day. But unless you’re cold, cruel and lacking a moral compass, you don’t “celebrate” a female’s so-called “privacy right” to have her unborn child sucked from her womb in bits and pieces.

Why is the United States of America no longer the great nation it once was? Why would God withhold His blessings from this land? Look to the things some of its people now “celebrate” and you’ll find at least one of the answers to those questions.

World Wide Web offers some value

Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I suppose I should be thanking *Al Gore, the former vice president and Oscar-winning filmmaker (choke), for inventing the Internet.

A few minutes on the ’Net very early this morning saved me at least $75 and about 90 minutes of work.

My online time was spent researching a possible solution to a problem that developed with my garage door opener. The opener’s light wouldn’t go off automatically a few minutes after the garage door was opened or closed.

It didn’t take long for me to come across a suggested fix, which was to unplug the opener from its power source for five minutes and allow the logic board to reset itself.

Well, I did what the suggestion called for and, by golly, it worked! After opening or closing my garage door, the opener’s light now goes off on its own after about four minutes. It’s as good as new.

The Internet is loaded with junk, lies and pornography, but it does have its redeeming points. The solution to my garage door opener problem is but one of those redeeming points, and that pleases me.

What doesn’t please me is that a technician for the company that made my garage door opener didn’t offer the solution I discovered online when I called the company help desk the other day. After I gave him the model number for my opener and described my problem, the man told me I had three choices: 1. Remove the bulb from the opener’s light socket (which I had already done as a temporary fix). 2. Replace the opener’s logic board (at a cost of time and about $75 for the part). 3. Replace the entire unit (at a much greater cost).

None of the technician’s solutions satisfied me, which drove me to the Internet and my search for another option.

After my success with resetting the logic board, this question immediately came to mind: “If the solution to the problem was relatively easy to find on the Internet, why didn’t the opener’s help-desk technician know about it and suggest it to me?”

Could it be that the help desk is less about helping and providing good solutions and more about selling openers and opener parts?

The cynic in me says “Yes.”

*Al Gore didn’t really invent the Internet, but he once boasted he did. He really did win an Academy Award for “An Inconvenient Truth,” a 2006 documentary about global warming, but the film was based on junk science and, like a lot of stuff on the Internet, is everything but the truth.

In a year of great change, God provides

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Today, Feb. 8, marks a year since I worked my last day at the News Chief newspaper, my employer for many years, and effectively retired from daily newspaper work.

It has been a year of great change. And it has been, without a doubt, the fastest-passing year of my life.

God is good.

God has provided.

God has blessed.

For that and for so much more, I am grateful.

Will The Ledger remain ‘liberal’?

For almost 40 years, The Ledger in Lakeland has been a New York Times Co.-owned newspaper.

That came to abrupt end Friday (Jan. 6, 2012) with the announcement that the sale of The Ledger and 15 other NYT Co. papers to Halifax Media Holdings LLC had been completed.

Among the papers included in the $143 million cash purchase by Daytona Beach-based Halifax Media was my former employer, Winter Haven’s News Chief, which The Ledger and NYT Co. bought almost four years ago to eliminate a prime source of competition.

The Ledger’s ownership by the NYT Co. brought prestige, great media and technical resources, nice benefits for employees and usually solid financial backing, but it also brought the baggage that the local paper was, like its parent, very socially and politically liberal in tone and opinion page content.

People have wondered for years how and why The Ledger could be “so liberal” in a county, Polk, dominated by basically conservative people.

Compared to the “conservative” News Chief, which I served as a newsroom employee for many years and later as editor, The Ledger definitely leaned to the left.

I was with the News Chief when it was purchased in March 2008 by The Ledger and NYT Co. and worked as a NYT Co. employee for almost three years. Honestly, as a conservative, I felt like a fish out of water the whole time, though I liked and respected — and still do — The Ledger managers and employees who went instantly from competeters to colleagues at the stroke of midnight on March 10, 2008.

Will The Ledger’s new affiliation with Halifax Media steer it in a more conservative course editorially? Will the News Chief remain a basically “conservative” newspaper. I hope so, but time will tell.

I noticed that with Friday’s issue of the News Chief, all New York Times Co. logos and references to the company had been removed. There’s a piece of me that will quietly rejoice when all references to the NYT also are removed from the signage at the office (and Ledger bureau) that houses the News Chief in Winter Haven. JB (Jan. 7, 2012)

Drug commercials
on TV are amusing

I wasn’t watching TV tonight, but from the kitchen I could hear the commercial for a new drug that was developed to offset the symptoms of depression.

It amused me that while the first half of the commercial voiceover was spent extolling all the benefits of the drug, the second half was spent warning potential users about how the drug can make them sick, make them go blind and even kill them.

The second half of the commercial is called the legal disclaimer, and it’s the drug manufacturer’s way — at least one way — of staving off potential lawsuits over unintended side effects.

“The drug made your big toe fall off? Well, we warned you,” the lawyers for the pharmaceutical company can now say.

The way the ad text is written is altogether funny, sad and absolutely necessary in an age of instant lawsuits. JB (Jan. 7, 2012)

A great book from a former Winter Haven newspaper editor (and good friend):

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas:

Another good source of news from, for and about the right:

For fine portraits and quality commercial photography: and

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln:

Anyone who loved our 40th president will love this site:

For great, useful and trendy technology:

A great community project:

A good movie: It’s a low-budget film called “Fireproof,” starring Kirk Cameron. You'll cry — if you have any kind of heart at all.

For breakfast out: Fred’s Southern Kitchen, 1551 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The breakfast buffet is wonderful.

For supper out: Manny’s Original Chophouse, 1100 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The food is good and the prices are right.

A marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land of the free because of the brave.” (It’s on bumper stickers, too.)

A local church sign: “Spend less time on Facebook and more time in His book.”

Another church sign: “Questions are in life. Answers are in church.”

Still another area church sign: “God isn’t withholding anything from you. He’s holding it for you.”

An open invitation to attend:

Stars: To Catholic and other church leaders for taking on the Obama administration over its plan to require require church-run hospitals and universities to give their employees free contraception. The plan, since modified by the administration following mounting opposition, was a frontal attack on religious freedom in this country.

Stars: To the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its approval of the first new nuclear power project since 1978. Nuclear power sure beats windmills as a source of alternative energy.

Stars: To the approximately 39 percent of registered Polk County Republicans who voted Jan. 31 in the Florida presidential preference primary.

Strikes: To the approximately 61 percent of registered Polk County Republicans who DID NOT vote in the Jan. 31 Florida GOP primary. Come on, folks. We’re Republicans. We’re conservatives. We can do better than that.

Strikes: To the immorality of the U.S. entertainment industry and most of the people involved in it. The drug culture embraced by the industry no doubt contributed in large part to the early death of singer/actress Whitney Houston, 48. These comments in no way absolve Houston of her responsibility for the self-destructive decisions she made in her life after rising to the top of the pop music world. They include her inconceivable decision to hook up with and marry that loser of a drug user, singer Bobby Brown.


Following recent events, will Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood be forever linked in our minds?

Komen group came so close to doing the right thing

Saturday, Feb. 4 , 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I had plans Friday to write a piece about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and how pleased I was to learn that the nation’s leading breast cancer charity had severed financial ties with Planned Parenthood.

I’m glad I didn’t. A follow-up would’ve been necessary.

This morning I read that the Komen foundation leaders, under intense criticism and pressure from social media and other corners, had reversed course. The foundation will continue to provide grant money to the abortion-providing Planned Parenthood, supposedly for its breast cancer-screening services.

Not only has my pleasure with the Komen foundation turned to displeasure, I am truly disappointed and disheartened that its leaders, fearing loss of the almighty funding dollar, succumbed under Planned Parenthood-led pressure to retain the foundation’s original grant rules. Those rules flow allow the flow of foundation money to Planned Parenthood, while the grant rule changes announced earlier in the week would’ve cut off that flow.

In essence, the Komen foundation leaders took what amounted to be a highly moral stance toward its relationship with Planned Parenthood and then retreated, coming down squarely on the side of mammon — the pursuit and love of money.


Tax season and presidential politics combine to fire up the debate about the U.S. tax code and options for replacing it.

Scrap the tax code; ponder move to national sales tax

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Reducing the federal budget to meaningful programs is only one of the many chores required of a U.S House and a Senate that, conservatives hope, both will be controlled by Republicans following the Nov. 6 election.

Confronting the Internal Revenue Service — and its 40,000-plus pages of rules and regulations — will test the political fortitude of the newly elected. But, it must be done.

The U.S Department of the Treasury employs about 150,000 individuals, including the new 16,000-member IRS audit force, which will cling to their leader’s economically disastrous tax agenda to the ruination of any return to full employment.

The IRS must be virtually eliminated. The income tax must be completely eliminated.


“The Guardian Angel” was painted by Pietro da Cortona in 1656.

Let me tell you about my guardian angel, Andrew

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012


FROSTPROOF, Fla. — One of the things enjoyed by children is being told that each of us has a guardian angel watching over us. When young, we have fun thinking of something like that, and it stimulates our imagination. As adults, though, I think many people would be embarrassed to admit to believing in a guardian angel. The world of adults has hardened us to focus on the toughness of realities, causing many of us to relegate such ideas to the shadows and privacy of our minds.

For a large part of my life, I rarely spoke of religious matters. I am not sure how long I was outside the church of my youth, but it had to be 30 years or more. Still, the roots of my childhood training stood waiting patiently for the chance to come to life. Sometime in my early senior years, I found my way back with help from my late wife. The time was right. The roots sprang to life.

It was a while, though, before I developed a relationship with my guardian angel. That happened in my 70s. What made me more aware of my angel was those little memory events we seniors are prone to — forgetting car keys or the grocery list when leaving to go shopping, for example. Forgetting why I entered a room is another one. It doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to the bathroom for some reason; just other rooms.

I found myself saying “Thank you” each time I would be reminded where these things were, or why I entered the room. It seemed as though my childhood angel was letting me know he was still hanging around. He had not forgotten me even if I seemed to have forgotten him. As a retired guidance counselor, I had enough psychology courses to expect folks to give scientific explanations for the memory prompting.

When I think of memory prompting, I think of all the cartoons depicting a little angel on the right shoulder and a little devil in the red suit with his pitchfork on the left. Freud would say that his Superego (conscience), Ego and the Id (“it” in German) were at work. These would be forces from within a person. I prefer the more spiritual explanation.

At one point, I asked my angel what his name was. I told him I didn't want to say “Hey, you” when speaking to him. After a few weeks with no answer, I grew impatient. I said I would give him a name. I remembered reading a story told by Joan Wester Anderson about Mother Angelica, the television nun. She was said to have chosen her religious name because of having had an angel-contact experience. I decided that I would call my angel Angelo. I told him that I hoped he was Italian.

Several weeks passed with me using that name, until one day when I received a memory prompt that what I wanted was in my trailer. As I moved from my Florida room up the steps into the trailer, I said “Thank you, Angelo” as usual. This time, however, the name “Andrew” popped out of my mouth. I was stunned. I had not used that name for so many years, I could not remember.

I said, “OK. I get it. Andrew it is. I guess you’re not Italian.”

Some would classify me as crazy. It doesn't bother me. I have developed a thick skin when it comes to criticism. I know I am right. That is what matters. I think that God’s grace has strengthened me in these recent years. Not only have I been a regular church-goer, but for five years, I have even served as a eucharistic minister, helping to serve the blessed sacrement at mass most weekends.

When I was in college, I had an inflated opinion of teachers and professors. I felt that they were all “brains” who got nothing but A's for marks. Well, one day my professor, a man with a doctorate degree, admitted that he was terrible at math and had failed it. This fact impacted me. It helped change my life. I have since recognized the value of personal honesty as a means of helping people to acquire realistic perceptions. Hence, this article.

I encourage all of you reading this to fight the tendancy to conceal any relationship you might feel toward your guardian angel. You might never get a message coming from your own lips as to what his — or her — name is, but please acknowledge your angel’s presence and willingness to help you.

Jesus might have given you a get-into-heaven-free card by accepting Him as your Savior, but remember that we can blow it all by acting in an irresponsible and sinful manner. I think it pays to have someone on the inside to keep reminding us of things. Angels don’t just remind us of car keys. They also remind us of the good things that our Lord expects of us.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at

This is an image from the website of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who on Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2012) won the Florida Republican presidential primary by a wide margin.

After Florida, GOP nod seems a lock for Romney

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Republican presidential preference primary (my vote was for the no-nonsense Ron Paul as sort of a statement both against the GOP establishment and a very weak field of candidates), but I’m not surprised Romney took Florida convincingly.

In really a four-person race, Romney received 46.4 percent of the Florida GOP vote. His closest rival, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, could muster only 31.9 percent despite a solid victory in the South Carolina primary just 10 days earlier; while former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Paul, a Texas congressman, finished with 13.3 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively.

What contributed to Tuesday’s lopsided victory for Romney, the businessman and former Massachusetts governor? Here’s how I see it:


Alabama still shouldn’t
have been in title game

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Most sports fans and many casual observers of the national news scene knew by Tuesday morning (Jan. 10) that the University of Alabama had defeated Louisiana State, 21-0, in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) title game in New Orleans the night before.

What’s my excuse for not know the results of the game until Wednesday? I have three, actually. 1. These days, I rarely watch television, including TV news. 2. A onetime talk radio junkie, I seldom now turn on the radio — in the car or anywhere else. 3. I completely forgot until Wednesday morning that the game was played Monday night.

I wasn’t surprised that Alabama, ranked second in the final 2011 BCS poll, had upset undefeated and No. 1-ranked LSU, the only team that had topped the Crimson Tide during the regular season.

I was a little concerned, though, that ’Bama fans would use the game result to mock me for having written almost five weeks ago that their team didn’t deserve to be in the BCS title game.

My point in a Dec. 4 column (you can find it here) was that the BCS system is very flawed by allowing a team that did not win its conference championship into the BCS title game. (That game usually decides major college football's mythical national championship, the MNC.)

Not only did Alabama NOT win the 2011 Southeastern Conference title, the team didn’t even play in the SEC title game. LSU got into that game by winning the SEC Western Division and then won the SEC title by defeating Georgia.

My Dec. 4 column never addressed whether Alabama could contend with and even defeat LSU in a rematch (as it obviously did). I never wrote that Alabama didn’t stand a chance against the mighty Tigers. I wrote only that a team without a conference championship should not be eligible to play in that season’s BCS title game. And I haven’t changed my opinion about that — no matter what happened Monday night.

Because the competition factor — a paper matchup of two strong teams — was not a basis for my opinion, today I am not eating crow and I am not wiping egg off my face.

Weight loss possible when exercising some discipline

Saturday Dec. 31, 2011



That’s the message I saw on a sign outside a used sporting goods store I drove by in Winter Haven a couple of weeks before Christmas.

Motorists passing my truck at the time might have seen the wry smile that came to my face.

“Now, that says a lot,” I thought.

It told me that the store likely paid almost nothing for, and probably was asking top dollar for, several treadmills that people wasted their money on and wanted to get out of the house.

It told me that the store was taking advantage of the holiday buying and gift-giving season to help ring up some sales — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It told me that the store also was timing the treadmill sales to the coming new year and the penchant among many people to resolve to lose weight and get fit.

And it told me that at least 17 people in the area likely gave up on their resolution and didn’t want to have a treadmill around the house to remind them about it.

(How many more people are there who gave up on their fitness resolution but still have a treadmill or some other large piece of exercise equipment taking up space in the family room or garage?)

I’m here to say that anybody — anybody — can lose weight and get fit and that nobody — absolutely nobody — needs to waste hard-earned money on expensive exercise equipment to do it. (Sorry, manufacturers and retailers.)

The irony of it all

This piece of art, created in the wake of the recent protests against corporate America and Wall Street, is making the rounds on the Internet. It shows well the irony of the protests and the hypocrisy — idiocy? — of most of those doing the protesting. You can go here for a larger version of this illustration.

True, Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States, but can Americans trust this man to keep the nation strong, well defended and free? (U.S. government photos)

On cue, ‘Obamaspeak’ follows failure of budget ‘Super Committee’

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, President Barack Hussein Obama proposed a “Super Committee” to provide the nation that which Congress could not. Namely, a federal budget that would simultaneously reduce America's $15 trillion indebtedness while continuing the expansion of Barack Hussein’s entitlement programs.

By definition, there could be no budget acceptable to both the Sociocoms (aka “Democrats”) and alleged conservatives (aka “Republicans”). There should be no surprise at this ideological impasse. It came off as planned by the Sociocoms.

How’s that again?


What’s the truth about Social Security? Is it a Ponzi scheme or is it a perpetually viable and dependable financial safety net for older Americans? (Illustration by Joe Braddy)

Social Security (1935-2011): Where is the rage?

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, there has been some controversy regarding the administration of Social Security. One Republican presidential candidate had the audacity to suggest it was a Ponzi scheme. Another Republican presidential candidate suggested otherwise.

Let history be your guide. Since 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the trillions of working-men and women dollars, placed in trust for their eventual retirement have, indeed, been faithfully doled out to retiring workers.

For several decades, more dollars flowed into Social Security than required for disbursement. Naturally, our elected officials (aka “politicians”) couldn’t help but notice the mounting pile of (formerly) silver certificates. They were fast to take advantage. Rather than expose these silver certificates to the vagaries of the (gasp!) stock market, where, from one day to the next, who knew what fate awaited the innocent!


Keep watching this space and see the bird as it takes on new personalities in a series drawn by James W. MacMeekin III. (Exclusive rights are granted to for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” — Doug Firebaugh, author and motivational speaker

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot (1819-1880), British novelist

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” — The final words of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale before he was hanged by the British on Sept. 22, 1776

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” — Edith Lovejoy Pierce (1904-1983), poet

“One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.” — Col. Harland Sanders (1890-1980), founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” — Harry S. Truman (1884-1982), 33rd U.S. president

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, founder of General Electric

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” — Lee Greenwood, singer, “Proud to Be an American”

“Nothing will work unless you do.” — John Wooden (1910-2010), college basketball coach

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” — Albert Einstein, mathematician and physicist

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” — Unknown

“America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.” — George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president (2001-09)

“Every artist was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“Work spares us from three evils: Boredom, vice and need.” — Voltaire

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau, American author

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president (1981-89)

“Who aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; who aims at mediocrity will be far short of it.” — Burmese saying

“The love of wealth makes bitter men; the love of God, better men.” — W.L. Hudson

“Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accummulate laws to take it away from themselves.” — Unknown

“The reason Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan. — Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), U.S. civil rights leader

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” — Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States

“The higher our position, the more modestly we should behave.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.-43 B.C.), Roman philosopher, statesman

Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. — Proverbs 14:34 (KJV)

“Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” — Douglas MacAuthur (1880-1964), U.S. Army general

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — John Powell, British statesman

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” — Billy Graham, American evangelist

“The devil is not afraid of a Bible with dust on it.” — Unknown preacher

“Lost time is never found again.” —
Benjamin Franklin, American patriot, statesman and inventor

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” —
George Washington, first U.S. president

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

Sometimes I wake up grumpy. Other times I let her sleep.

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

Two peanuts were walking down the road and one was a salted.

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. — Anonymous, but contributed by Jack Murphy

“If you had to specify, in one word, why the human race has not, and will never achieve its full potential, that word would be meetings.” — Dave Barry

A retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job.

I’ve got to get in shape. Yesterday my imagination ran wild, and today my arms and legs are sore. — From the collection of Jack Murphy

A boss with no humor is like a job that is no fun.

Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Did you hear about the two radio antennas that got married? The wedding was terrible, but the reception was excellent!

Car bumper
displays ignorance

For good and bad, for better or worse, a vehicle bumper sticker usually will be a reflection of the person behind the wheel.

Here is what I saw on the bumper of a white sedan I parked next to recently in front of a Walmart store in Winter Haven:

“Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”

I take from that the owner or driver of the car is ignorant, just mean or some of both.

The driver obviously has no idea what being born again — “saved” in the Baptist vocabulary — means. He or she doesn’t understand that a person who is born again actually is very mature — mature enough at least to realize that there’s no way a person can earn a home in Heaven by his or her own accord, by his or her own deeds or behavior.

Here’s what else the bumper sticker tells me: The person responsible for it has an anti-Christian disposition and a life that requires some kind of divine intervention.

If there was ever a time to have a Bible tract to stick under the windshield wiper of a car, that was it. — Joe Braddy

The stars are

Almost by accident tonight, I stumbled across the big, bright and beautiful stars.

Oh, I knew they were up there in the heavens, hung perfectly by God in His glorious creation, but tonight they seemed extra wondrous.

In a change of routine, I went outside around 7:30 p.m. to cool down in the cool night air following a round of exercises, and when I looked out and up, there they were. Those stars.

Likely because the light of the moon wasn’t around to interfere, and the sky was so clear, the stars seemed to be extra bright. And extra big. And extra beautiful.

I am thankful for the stars — and the little time I could spend with them tonight. — JB (Jan. 16, 2012)

The message
is comforting

About a week ago, I heard for the first time a song that hints of a Christmas message but clearly delivers a gospel message.

Sung by two talented ladies at our church, “Immanuel” was made popular by the contemporary Christian trio Point of Grace.

“Immanuel, our God is with us, yes he is with us still. Immanuel, he has not left us, and he never will.”

Of course, Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” and is another name for Jesus Christ.

Looking up references to the song, I came across a performance of it by Point of Grace on YouTube. You can find it — and, I hope, enjoy it — here. JB

“His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll carry us when we can’t carry on.” — From “His Strength Is Perfect,” a song by Steven Curtis Chapman

“He was there all the time ... waiting patiently in line.” – From “He Was There All the Time,” a contemporary Christian song

“In times like these I have a Savior, In times like these I have an anchor; ...” — From “In Times Like These,” a gospel hymn





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