If you're like me, nothing makes you happier than being able to find that perfect holiday gift for friends and family members. Obviously I'm going to say technology is the best gift to give because it's the gift that keeps on giving ... because tech is so cool and useful.
The challenge is there are so many technology devices out there, it's hard to find the right tech to get. Fear not, I've taken the time to pick out some of my favorite tech items for anyone on your list.
Great Stocking Stuffers
As a kid, I would sometimes get more excited about what was hiding in the stocking than what was wrapped up under the tree. Get your loved ones excited about reaching into their stockings by purchasing these cool tech items.
Mophie 3 in 1
For years, I've always recommended people to get Mophie's Juice Pack as a backup charger for their Android and Apple smartphones. Now Mophie has stepped up their game and created the Mophie 3 in 1 which is a wireless charger pad that will allow you to charge up to 3 devices such as a smartwatch, wireless headphones, and a smartphone.
Amazon Echo Buds
These earbuds work with your Alexa to stream music, make calls, and they are wireless. As an added bonus, they also feature Bose noise reduction which means you can enjoy music without outside interference.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple's second-generation AirPods are a vast improvement over the first-generation headphones. Better fit and better battery life. The wireless charging case makes this a great gift.
For The Kids In Your Life
There's nothing more exciting to see your kids scream in delight at the awesome gifts they are about to get. These tech gifts are bound to be a hit with your kids.
Kindle Fire Kids Edition
The 10.1-inch version of this smart tablet is the perfect gift for your young kids. A 2-year warranty and protective case mean you don't have to worry about your clumsy kids in your life.
One of the best things about the Switch is the fact your kids can play this device as a handheld or hook it up to a television. This means you can enjoy your TV and your kids and still enjoy gameplay. Robust parental controls mean you can limit how many rounds of Fortnite they play.
Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition
This device does everything the Echo does, but it's kid-friendly and has parental controls to block inappropriate content. You can also take advantage of the FreeTime Unlimited which offers educational activities, audible books, music, and games.
For Your Smart Home
If you haven't experienced the features of having a smart home, you're missing out. With the right devices, you can control your home with an app or your voice.
Amazon Echo Show
Yes, there is the Google Home View, but the Echo show offers the best features for your smartphone. The skills you can add to your Echo Show are endless which makes a great hub for your smartphone, allows you to easily monitor your house and can offer your family hours of entertainment.
Known as the company that makes smart doorbells, Ring now offers cameras, smart lights and alarm systems which quickly integrate into your smart home
Google Nest Wi-Fi
Google Nest is a mesh system that extends your Wi-Fi network throughout your house. I'm not a big fan of mesh networks, but Google's Next will help you get wireless in those hard to reach areas of your house.
Smartphones, Tablets, and Computers
Everyone is on these devices all of the time, so why not choose the holidays to pick out a new gadget to help your loved ones stay productive and entertained.
iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S10
These Apple and Android phones offer the best speed, screen size, battery life, and camera.
Galaxy Tab S4 and iPad Air
I hate to say it, Apple and Samsung make the best tablets on the planet. Give one as a gift and watch their eyes light up.
Dell XPS and MacBook Pro
Want to pick a computer for a gift this year, Dell and Apple won't disappoint you. They are both a little pricey, but would you rather have a laptop that only lasts a year and a half or get one that will last 10 years or longer?
For Those Who are Tech Challenged
We all know someone in our lives who would use some cool technology, but they aren't too tech-savvy. Here are some items that will get them engaged in tech.
Roku Box or Stick
With streaming services becoming more popular, turn that dumb TV of your loved ones into a smart tv with a Roku. Roku devices are easy to set up and easy to use which will bring enjoyment to anyone regardless of their level of tech expertise.
Roomba Smart vacuums
These devices can make household chores much easier. They charge themselves and can avoid most obstacles.
Have a loved one in your life who could use a smartphone? Consider getting them a Jitterbug. This easy to use phone offers all of the features of an Android phone, but with an easy to use interface.
Cool and Unusual Tech Gifts
You might have people on your gift list all of the tech out on this list, but there are some cool and unusual tech items out there that will make them jump for joy.
Do you have someone who is looking for a new way to game? Consider getting them this wireless headset doesn’t require a computer or a gaming system. It will allow games to interact with an immersive virtual reality gaming experience.
Ember Smart Mug
This smart mug will keep your hot drink at the temperature you want. A charge lasts for up to an hour and a half on a single charge. Never worrying about drinking cold coffee or winter drinks again.
Reclaim your weekends with this automower. This self-guiding mower will make sure that you don't have to spend long hours taking care of your lawn. It clips the grass short which will also fertilize your lawn as well.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you. Reach out to us a www.callintegralnow.com or phone at 888.256.0829.
With the year coming to a close, the Missouri General Assembly is gearing up for the 2020 legislative session. There is much work to be done before the start of session, which is set to begin on Jan. 8, 2020. I’ve already started working on my priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and pre-filed several of them. Easing the tax burden, specifically property taxes, on hardworking Missourians and improving government accountability are my main goals for the 2020 legislative session.
One of the biggest problems facing our community is the recent spike in property tax. I’ve heard from many of you that your property tax assessments and resulting tax bills were inaccurate and far too high. Some have seen their tax bills double, while others are expected to pay hundreds of dollars more than last year. Naturally, these sudden increases have left some Missourians scrambling to pay their bills with the holidays right around the corner. I believe taxpayers should not experience sticker shock when they receive their property tax bills.
That is why I’m proposing legislation to limit how much property taxes can increase each year. By capping tax rate increases, I believe we can allow for property taxes to gradually adjust with changes to inflation, market value and other factors, without surprising Missourians with an unexpected and costly tax bill.
Another legislative proposal I will be working on is a proposed amendment to Missouri’s Constitution to allow voters to elect the Jackson County Assessor. Jackson County is one of only two governments in our state that appoints an assessor, rather than elects one (the other is St. Louis City). I trust the people of Jackson County to select the person best able to serve them in public office, and the assessor’s office should be no different. While empowering voters, I believe this change will have the added benefit of increasing the office’s accountability and responsiveness to the people of Jackson County. If this proposal is approved by the Missouri General Assembly, it will have to be approved by Missouri voters statewide before going into effect.
In addition, I am proposing another constitutional amendment that relates to voter turnout and taxes. I am proposing that the state require local taxing jurisdictions to receive at least a 22 percent voter turnout rate in order to enact a tax increase. Too often, taxing jurisdictions propose tax increases, hold a quiet election for the measure and get it approved by a small segment of voters. Meanwhile, the vast majority of voters are now on the hook for the bill. By implementing reasonable, attainable turnout thresholds for enacting tax increases, I believe we can ensure adequate representation regarding taxation. This amendment will also need to be approved by a statewide vote in order to go into effect.
I am also proposing a constitutional amendment to help end double taxation. Across the state, there are taxing jurisdictions that overlap, but generate revenue for similar services. There have been, and currently are, Missourians who are caught in the middle with double the taxes for the same services. My legislation would allow taxpayers to decide which district they pay into. This legislation empowers citizens by giving them an active role in deciding how their hard-earned money is spent, as well as helping reduce their overall tax burden.
Lastly, I’ve pre-filed a bill to help Missourians cover certain medical costs. The Long-Term Dignity Act would allow Missourians to create long-term savings accounts to cover costs associated with Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases. By saving money early on, and with the power of compounding interest, Missourians with a family history of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases can be prepared for whatever life may throw at them.
As you can see, I’m already hard at work preparing my priorities for the 2020 legislative session. I’m eager for the start of session and working with my colleagues to pass commonsense and fiscally-responsible legislation.
Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2019 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Cierpiot.
by Wayne Geiger
My first memory of Santa is having to wait in line to see the big guy at a makeshift workshop in my neighborhood in Miami, Florida. I don’t remember if I was frightened, but I do remember having to wait in line for what seemed like an eternity. I also remember not knowing what to ask for. Somehow, I always received stuff I wanted on Christmas morn. He always seemed to know.
On Christmas Eve, my parents, attempting to get me and my sister to go to bed, would say that they could hear the rumblings of Santa’s sleigh several blocks over. So, with a sense of excitement and an element of fear, we would rush off to bed listening ever so closely for Santa’s arrival on our rooftop, before helplessly drifting off to sleep. The fact that we did not have a chimney was irrelevant. I was told that, somehow, he was always able to get in. The statement made me curious and left me a little unsettled.
I was never being able to catch Santa in the act. But, on Christmas morn, I did see evidence of his handiwork. He always sampled my mother’s cookies and drank some of the milk. Why he just sampled several cookies and never ate the whole thing was puzzling. Did he not know there were starving people in China? No matter, Santa left glistening presents under the tree and I had a fear that questioning Santa’s ethics would have repercussions that would perpetually place me on the naughty list.
I fully understood the naughty and nice list and, every December, I did my best to rectify my fearful dilemma. To me, it appeared that the list was not binary, but more of a spectrum. Santa had favorites. One Christmas morn, I looked outside at the neighbors’ house and saw the family across the street playing with their new toys. Investigating further, I found that Santa had brought one of them a Power Wheel’s car. They were on the nice list. I thought about the inequity and wondered why I did not get one. Perhaps, Santa’s list had been compromised or maybe I had been exceptionally naughty that year (the latter would be closer to the truth).
I’ll never forget the Christmas season when my sister and I were jumping on our parent’s bed and I rolled off. I was not hurt but was now at eye level to look under the bed. I noticed boxes of toys tucked away. One of them was a really cool jet that I really wanted to play with. I knew that I had found gold, but I was on someone else’s land so had to simply cover it back up and let it play out.
My sister and I were hush hush and went about our daily lives until Christmas morning when, to my joy, I got the jet! Interestingly, it did not come from my parents. It came from a higher authority. It was my passageway into adulthood. From that point on, Christmas lost some of its sparkle. Santa got run over by a Power Wheel’s car. The mystery and magic faded into materialism and empiricism.
I did not become a Christian until the age of 19. That first Christmas was nothing short of spectacular. It was the first time I truly understood what Christmas was all about. A lightbulb went on and the sparkle returned.
After getting married, and having children, my wife and I struggled with the whole Santa thing. Like every family, it was a personal decision we had to make. But, for us, it didn’t feel right to tell our children that Santa and God were real—only to have them discover later that we had told them a partial truth. In addition, we wanted them to know that dad and mom worked really hard to try to provide something special for them at Christmas. We knew that one day they would realize that, in life, sometimes the neighbors get a Power Wheel and you get a skateboard.
In our family, we wanted all the attention of Christmas to be upon Christ. We reached a workable compromise by focusing on Christ, being honest with our kids, and also creating an element of mystery and fun. The kids got presents from dad and mom, the dog, cat, and the parakeet. It was always fun and electric. The presents were always put out Christmas Eve and were not hidden under the bed. Been there.
We warned our kids not to “spoil” the fun for any of their friends or classmates whose family chose to celebrate differently. I’ll never forget one of the kids coming home from school and saying defiantly, “My teacher says that Santa is real, and he brings the presents.” This child’s face was serious, and their hands were firmly on their hips demanding a response. I think I commented back by saying, “We love you and want to be honest with you. Dad and Mom make Christmas a special time by getting the presents.”
Our little one was not convinced. They folded their arms and blurted back, “Well my teacher says he’s real.” I concluded by offering to do an experiment. I said, “Okay, let’s do this. Dad and Mom will buy all the other kids presents except for you and we’ll see if Santa brings you anything.” After a few thoughtful moments, she changed her tune.
As a pastor, I’ve done a great deal of research on the history of Christmas and could write extensively. In short, no one knows the exact day of Christ’s birth. We do know that in the fourth century AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth should be celebrated on December 25. The date merged Christmas with the pagan celebration of Saturnalia. It was an unholy compromise that began a slippery slope that led to Frosty the Snowman.
If you look around at most Christmas celebrations nowadays, Christ is reduced to a small figure in a nativity set under the tree, hidden by the wise men, shepherds, and the little drummer boy, while Santa, reindeer, elves, snowmen, elf on a shelf, and a host of other holiday fixtures take prominence in the front yard and in the home. The true, historical celebration of the Messiah’s birth is easily lost, or worse veiled, through an endless array of holiday décor.
But we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s possible to have a Christ-centered, fun celebration. My wife and I love the lights, colors, and the celebration of Christmas, but we also try to keep Christ as the central focus of our celebration. We also like to make it fun. All of our four children are grown now and each of them say that they appreciated our honesty and plan on taking the same approach with their own families. None of them needed counseling.
So, here I am, shivering, fingers and toes frozen, nose running, attaching Christmas lights to the gutter of the house. My wife is inside trying to figure out where to put our six trees and the Christmas village. It’s best for me to stay out of the way. In the end, although under protest, my outdoor mission will be to try to rival the illumination of the Griswolds.
I love Christmas time. If, for only a brief season, the world pauses to consider the whisper of the birth of Christ, I’m all for it. For me personally, Christmas is another day to celebrate what I know to be true all year long. Christ came into the world to seek and save the lost. Christmas is more than an event.
The problem with viewing Christmas as an “event” is that in early January, the lights, tree, and Christmas village will all be put back in the garage on the shelf. The unfortunate thing is many people lose the Christmas joy because happiness that is found in a box is only temporary.
The beautiful thing about seeing Christmas as a “season” which last all year is that even after the bling comes down, the joy remains. The difference is keeping Christ central. Because of Christmas, I have no fear of being on the naughty list. I know that my Redeemer lives, and life makes sense. I still have the sparkle of Christmas.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.
by Cathy Allie
My baby hasn’t asked for any toys for Christmas again this year, not even any techy thing I could consider a toy, and I am heartbroken. Granted, she is almost 14 and hardly who anyone would consider a baby anymore, but some of the magic of Christmas morning leaves when there is nothing to steal the batteries from the remote for, argue with my husband about assembly directions, and then watch my daughter rush to it on Christmas morning.
I was glad last year when llamas were all the rage because it gave me the opportunity to buy a stuffed one, which she snuggled on Christmas day then placed in a closet bin to bond with the other 6,304 animals residing there.
Oddly, when we try to purge those, she can tell me where or who each one came from, pleading with me to spare the poly-filled friends, and yet cannot remember to grab her lunch from the refrigerator for school about three of five days.
The year before, when she determined she was no longer interested in toys, I was determined to interest her in games again. I put together a basket with all my childhood favorites, like Uno, Candy Land (with funky looking bright colors and not the beautiful pastel candy I remember), Clue, Racko, and some newer game gang members like Left Right Center, Five Crowns, and Apples to Apples. I had visions of laughing teens at my kitchen table, merrily competing with one another, just like are pictured on the Mattel commercials.
My daughter’s response to a basket of fun was--well--best described as underwhelming. She was thankfully polite, and later in the day when I suggested some games, she suggested a movie. Her suggestion won.
When she was 11, I tried craft kits as a sub for toys. She made several string bracelets, a couple of very odd smelling candles, and a beaded keyring, always a popular accessory for a middle school backpack. Later, I found the candle wax tangled up in some of the string when I vacuumed her room, successful clogging the vacuum hose. I guess we are done with crafts.
Art supplies seem to be the one whimsical thing she loves. She feels about them the way I feel about office supplies, so I get it. But the marker pens I bought for her last birthday, with which you can blur lines and create shading the easy way, were the same cost as a root canal. I am currently busy squashing every artistic notion she has, to avoid bankruptcy.
I have done the next best thing in my fervor to purchase toys, moving on to children of friends who are young enough to appreciate them. I have to be careful with my four present rule friends (something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read), so as not to interrupt their careful parenting.
And maybe I won’t find anything for the kids anyway, because I long for toys of old. Where did the plastic vanity dresser complete with fake lipsticks and a styrofoam stool go? We converted the top of the vanity seat into an amusement ride, starting at the top of the stairs and sliding all the way down. We could fly on that old olive green sculpted carpet.
Where are the Baby Secrets of the world? She had a string on her side to pull, and her lips moved as she spoke to you. Granted, some of the phrases now seem a little weird in today’s world. “I want to sleep with you” and “ I know a secret!” may be the two most egregious. Never mind on Baby Secret. Don’t even Google her if you don’t want nightmares.
I also had a Baby Tubsy, with two little teeth on her gum line and a big smile, who came complete with her own terry cloth hooded towel, washcloth, and plastic pink tub. And her arms moved up and down and splashed water everywhere. Great fun!
The one flaw? The batteries to make her arms move were in a compartment on her bottom, which was submerged in water. After about two baths, Baby Tubsy began to leak battery corrosion, which appeared to be very baby-like diarrhea.
What about a Rings and Things plastic toy and ring maker? The concept was very hot metal plates with molds, into which you poured colored plastic from bottles that looked like Elmer’s glue, then you cooked them at a high temperature to firm up the plastic. What could go wrong with that?
The outdoor type? How about Jarts lawn darts? The really sharp, metal tipped missiles were fun to throw underhanded. That’s how we ALWAYS THREW them, I swear… Not into Jarts? What about a set of Clackers, acrylic orbs on a string that you banged together and whipped around your head in patterns, like an Olympic ribbon dancer with much less safe equipment?
Or maybe a Chinese jump rope, one continuous loop of incredibly strong elastic that hurt so bad when it snapped you cried. Made of the same thing as bungie cords, those jump ropes were wicked. I was pretty good at jump rope, and I suppose personal dexterity was not the reason.
Pretty much everybody I knew either had a Go Go the Burro, which was a precursor to the western comeback of bull riding in the bars, where your ride was dictated by your ability to hang on and to bounce (and later in life how many Tequila Sunrises you had consumed), or a Radio Flyer horse, usually named Blaze, attached to crazy bouncing springs.
I saw a version of Blaze at a big box store the other day, and they had carefully covered the huge springs which trapped many a sibling’s finger and either injured it badly or snapped it completely off when one rider wanted on and the other didn’t believe his or her time was up.
One day I will be a grandmother, God willing. I can tell you right now my daughter will be mad at me all the time for the toys I am going to drag into her house to make really cool memories. Four present rule be damned!
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.
There’s a hypnotic melody that has been reverberating through my head for about four decades now. Every now and then I hear the tune in my head. The tune often brings up images of a delightful childhood.
Growing up in Florida, and living just several hours from Walt Disney World, I have vivid memories of visiting “the happiest place on earth.” One of my most vivid memories was watching the Electrical Parade on Main Street at Disney which is a nighttime parade featuring floats, performers, and thousands of lights all synchronized to music.
I remember me, my little sister, and my mom and dad standing on Main Street watching the performance and being overwhelmed with the glimmering lights and intoxicating music. As a child, it was one of the most amazing things that I had ever seen—or heard. The music had a rhythmic theme that somehow sank deep into my soul and left a permanent mark. It never left.
When we left Disney, somehow, the song stayed with me. As a young child, I would often remember the song and hum it cheerfully. As the decades rolled on and the visual images began to dissipate, that song stuck in my head. A memory of one of the highlights of my childhood.
One of the challenging things about memories is that, as time passes, they are not always as clear and perhaps not always accurate. That was my fear. I didn’t know if the song in my head was accurate or just a recreated or readjusted version of the original. I wondered if I had forgotten the tune. The problem with memory is that it tends to fade and be replaced with an alternate form of reality. If we’re not careful, we may forget the song, or worse, why we sing.
Like yours, my early memories of Thanksgiving include tracing my hand on a paper plate with a crayon, creating turkeys out of construction paper, and learning strange tales about the Pilgrims who celebrated a great feast after their first harvest in the New World. Thanksgiving was also a great chance for family to get together and celebrate.
There was always great food and plenty of it. I always wondered why we didn’t eat the green bean casserole with french fried onions more often.
Not much has changed over the years. Although the names and locations have changed, our family, like yours, gets together to celebrate. It’s a great time to remember how good we have it. On Thanksgiving, I generally overeat and am overcome by tryptophan and end up passing out on the couch.
However, I generally wake up later that evening, stumble into the kitchen and help myself to another piece of my wife’s notorious chocolate pecan pie with whip cream. I then stagger into the living room and slump into my favorite chair with a cup of coffee.
Life is good. Life is good because God is good.
There is a danger in forgetting the melody of thanksgiving. It’s a melody of praise and thanksgiving directed back to God for His kindness and generosity. After all, as the Bible says, it is God who “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim 6:17). As the Great Maestro, He wrote the tune. The song is not just for our enjoyment, but is also for His adoration.
God wants us to remember where we came from, how we got here, and where we go from here. The danger with abundance is somehow thinking that we are responsible for it or that somehow, we obtained it with our own power. In Deuteronomy 8, God reminds His people, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut 8:17-18).
Many of us, as parents, have gotten into a verbal challenge with one of our teens who said, “Hey, it’s my room!” We, as adults, logically and lovingly remind them, “It may be your room—but your room happens to be in my house!” (Insert mic drop here).
The same is true with our lives. We live and operate in God’s house. He gives us strength to work and good health. We are to be a thankful people. He also blesses us so that we may bless others. My wife and I love to give because we know what it’s like to receive.
The year 1993 was a tough year for me and my family. I was a seminary student and we lived in New Orleans. I was a full-time student and worked a full-time job. Things were extremely busy, and our budget was tight. My wife was pregnant with our fourth child and, on doctor’s orders, was put on bed rest because of a troubled pregnancy. We knew it was going to be a tough Christmas and the presents would be few. We were okay with that.
About a week before Christmas, there was a knock on our door. Smiling strangers anxiously stood outside clutching overflowing boxes of food and wrapped presents. At first, we believed they were at the wrong house. They were not. Somehow, a church in the area had adopted us and they simply wanted to bless us at Christmas. And they did. There was laughter, tears, and there was music. They knew the tune.
On Christmas morning, the kids were overwhelmed with the wonderful treats. We told them God had provided. My wife and I were overwhelmed by God’s love and the generosity of His people. That’s the power of a song.
Not too long ago, I couldn’t take it. The song from the Electrical Parade was driving me crazy and I had to know if it was real or a fabricated memory. I’ve heard that you can find anything on Google, but I had my doubts about a memory that was more than four decades old.
Apparently, you really can find anything on Google. After a few clicks, I found a video of Disney’s Electrical Parade close to the era that I remembered. As the lights flashed and the music played, tears welled up in my eyes and I was instantly transported to Main Street at Disney. It was the same melody that I remembered. As I write this, the song is playing in my head and I am smiling.
There is also another song that is playing. It is the song of thanksgiving and adoration to the compassionate and loving creator of the universe who created the heavenly host, majestic mountains, and pecan pie with whipped cream. I am extremely thankful for His blessings. Most of all, I am thankful for the gift of His one and only Son, Jesus. May His wonderful melody reverberate in our minds and in our hearts all year long. If you don’t know the tune, open your heart and listen closely, you’ll hear the music.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.
by Phil Hanson, President and CEO, Truman Heartland Community Foundation
This is an important time of year for all nonprofits, with Giving Tuesday, December 3rd, marking the start of the charitable giving season. This holiday season, as you consider the ways your year-end gifts to nonprofits can make a difference make time to talk with your family members about the traditions and values that are important to you.
At this year’s Grants Luncheon on November 15th, we continued our tradition of welcoming new members to our Heartland Legacy Society. The 150 members of our Heartland Legacy Society have many things in common – they have worked hard, saved wisely and through a planned gift to Truman Heartland from their estate, will continue to support causes they care about. In the case of Legacy Society member James D. Browning, his gift supports the community as a whole.
In 2009, Browning, a retired Bank of Lee’s Summit president and farmer, left an estate gift to Truman Heartland to create an endowed grantmaking fund to benefit nonprofits serving the Lee’s Summit community. This year, your Community Foundation awarded $43,432 in grants to 12 nonprofits on behalf of the Browning Fund, supporting programs ranging from education and human services to arts and community betterment.
The Browning Fund has made cumulative grants totaling $466,000 over the past 11 years, all while the endowed fund has grown from the original gift amount of $875,000 to $945,000 today. That’s the power of an endowment.
J. D. Browning’s legacy of giving will make a positive impact in the Lee’s Summit community into perpetuity and is projected to make cumulative grants of more than $3.7 million in the next 50 years.
For many, a planned legacy gift is a way to honor loved ones, establish a scholarship fund or by naming a child successor, make charitable giving a family tradition. Our community is blessed with many generous individuals and families, who like Browning, have a vision for the future of our community and want to ensure that the causes they care about continue to receive the funding they need year, after year, after year.
We had the great pleasure of awarding $306,954 to 48 nonprofits at this year’s Grants Luncheon. More than $191,000 was made available by legacy gifts and $62,700 thanks to current Foundation fundholders. Our grants are an investment. We are investing in the people and organizations who have a passion and vision for the community and are helping strengthen our cities and those in need.
So, as you gather together with family over the holidays, remember what the season is about, count your blessings and take time to talk about the ways your family’s traditions can help make a difference here in our community.
Phil Hanson is the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through cooperation with community members and donors.
THCF serves the region with assets of more than $50 million and annual grants surpassing $4.4 million.
For more information on charitable giving, visit www.thcf.org or call Truman Heartland at 816.836.8189.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Last week, readers were introduced to perhaps the most accurate reason, but there are numerous other theories as to how the name “Sni-a-Bar” came to exist. In addition to the possibility that the name was first given to the creek explored by a Frenchman named Abar who believed he had found a “sni” (the French word for slough) or backwater which would lead him back to the Missouri River, there are other theories,
A July 12, 1925, article in the Kansas City Star reported that University of Missouri professor Urban T. Homes, an instructor in romance philology, theorized that Sni-a-Bar came from chenal-a-boire (pronounced shni-ya-BWAR), meaning “stream to be drunk.”
However logical that may sound, the same article offers a second theory which may be more accurate. Author Robert M. Snyder Jr. researched the subject at some length and believed the nom-de-creek came from Antoine Hubert (pronounced something like yu-BEAR). He was a Frenchman who traded along the Missouri Rivers and its’ tributaries. A rough prairie pronunciation of this Frenchman’s creek (chenail-a-Hubert) would have sounded close to “Sni-a-Bar.” Snyder bases his conclusion on a book published in 1829 in Germany by Prince Paul of Wurtemberg, who traveled up the Missouri in 1822 and refers to “chenal-a-Hubert.”
In her Masters of Arts thesis completed in 1937, Anne Atchison’s “Place Names of Five West Central Counties of Missouri,” Atchison offers her theory for the name.
“Many explanations have been offered for the origin of this foreign looking word. The most feasible one is that it was derived from the French work chenal, or its dialect pronunciation “chenail,” which means channel, plus the personal name Robert. The change from Chenel Hubert to Sniabar is a phonetic one. An island near the mouth of the stream forms a channel from which part of the word is derived, and Antoine Hubert was a French merchant of St. Louis known to have been in the vicinity of Sniabar.”
In researching the name, one can also find many spellings! Euebert 1803; Chenal on Barre 1819-1820; Chenal Ebert 1823; C. aux Hebert 1826; Hebert Creek 1832; Slue Abar 1834, Shnee-a-bar 1834; Shne-bar 1834; Schuyte Aber 1837; Snybar 1855; Snyabar 1859 and finally Sniabar 1869.
Creeks, a township, a road, a farm and even a school share the name, yet it’s source will probably always remain a mystery.
The Grain Valley Historical Society Museum is located at 506 South Main Street and online at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.
by Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Did you know that one in 11 Americans have diabetes or that someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. every 23 seconds? We also know that 86 million Americans are at risk of developing diabetes.
There is no better time than now to prepare yourself for the upcoming holidays and to learn healthy eating strategies for lifelong behavior change to prevent, delay or manage diabetes. Managing diabetes is about controlling blood sugar levels.
One method of meal planning to control blood sugar levels involves counting carbohydrates. To better understand carbohydrate counting (aka: carb counting) one must learn what foods have carbohydrates and their portion sizes.
Foods that contain carbohydrates and recommended to be counted:
Dairy: milk and yogurt
Grains: bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, rice
Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, peas
Vegetable proteins: Beans (any variety), soy products
Dessert foods/beverages: Regular soda, juice drinks, cakes, cookies, candy
Fruit: Fresh, canned, frozen and juice-based
To figure out how much carbohydrates packaged foods contain, look to the food nutrition facts panel. First check serving size, followed by total carbohydrates. Foods that do not have a food label will require an estimation of how much carbohydrate is in it. When planning meals as a diabetic, 1 serving of a carbohydrate food equals about 15 grams.
A few food examples with approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates:
1 tennis ball of fresh fruit
1 slice of bread
½ cup cooked oatmeal
¼ of a large baked sweet potato
1 cup milk (skim to whole)
½ cup cooked beans (ex: black, kidney, etc.)
The amount of carbohydrates one needs will vary on the individual. A great place to start is 15 to 20 grams at snacks and 30 to 45 grams at meals. A person’s carbohydrate amount will depend on many factors; an individual’s activity level and prescribed medications will influence how many carbohydrates your body can handle to keep your blood glucose in a healthy range.
Animal-based proteins (ex: chicken, eggs, fish, beef, etc.), healthy fats (ex: nuts, seeds, oils, etc.), and non-starchy vegetables (ex: lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.) have either no carbohydrates or contain little carbohydrate. These foods, especially non-starchy carbohydrates, should always be included on your food plates. However, it’s generally easier to not focus on including these foods in your carb counting.
Whether you are a diabetic needing more assistance to manage your blood sugar, pre-diabetic or have never had your glucose measured, a registered dietitian is available to help you better understand. Try this recommended fall favorite recipe, Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.
Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian at the Blue Springs Hy-Vee. She can be reached at email@example.com. The information is not intended as medical advice.
Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4 (1/2 stuffed squash half).
All you need:
2 (8 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 1/4 cups red enchilada sauce, divided
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
All you do:
Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450 degrees.
Place chicken in a medium saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and gently simmer until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish and add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400-degree oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the large bowl. Place the shells on a broiler-safe pan. Stir 1 cup enchilada sauce, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the squash and chicken. Divide the mixture between the shells; top with the remaining 1/4 cup enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes. To serve, cut each shell in half.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 408 calories, 22g fat, 11g saturated fat, 136mg cholesterol, 426mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 7g sugars, 34g protein. Daily values: 22% vitamin A, 32% vitamin C, 28% calcium.
Source: EatingWell, Inc.
by Wayne Geiger
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Many of us try to watch our language. Even the saltiest sailor will try to curb his or her language around the little ones or in front of the preacher. For most of us, the true test is not what flows from out of our mouths in a controlled environment, but what flies out of our mouth when we step on a Lego. That’s the true test. The issue is not the mouth, of course, but the heart.
The ten commandments are found in the book of Exodus 20:1-17. They are not random “things to do” to rob us of our fun, but structured, rationale instructions that reveal the heart of God. The first four commands give instruction about our vertical relationship with God. These are commands that deal with people and God. The last six commands reveal what God expects of our horizontal relationships or how we deal with other people.
So, when Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31) he was basically reminding us that the key to obeying the commandments is vertical and horizontal love. But that’s another article.
For this article, I’d like to call commandment number three to the witness stand and put it under the microscope. Most people do not know what it means to “not take the Lord’s name in vain.” It has little to do with cussing (there are other passages for that). The command literally has to do with God’s name. God’s name is special—or holy.
Most parents spend a great deal of time “naming” their child. Some children are named after a family member or someone that left a significant imprint upon the father or mother. Some children are named after pop culture—like Disney characters or actors or actresses. Some parents won’t even reveal the name of their child until the baby is born. Names are unique and special.
I had a student some time ago whose name was Semaj. I had a hard time remembering it, until he informed me that his mother named him Semaj because it’s James backwards. I’ve never forgotten it.
I was mortified when in second grade I found that my name meant “wagon maker.” Through the chuckles, my teacher informed the class that wagon makers were very important people in the expansion of the old west. I was not convinced. Neither were they.
We like to identify people by name. If your eye catches that special someone for the first time, you want to know, “what’s their name?” We are hurt when people don’t remember our name. There have been people who have made us so angry that we say, “don’t even mention their name in my presence!”
Names mysterious and powerful. In the biblical creation story, God allowed Adam to name all the animals—thus exercising dominion over them. As a child in school, I remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin. In order for the king’s daughter to keep from having to give up her baby to the imp-like-creature, she needed to discover his name. According to research, the tale was one collected by the Brothers Grimm in the 1812 edition of “Children's and Household Tales” and may have been circulating for about 4000 years.
We give personal names to inanimate objects that we value. Maybe you grew up with a favorite doll or bear—and you named it. It was uniquely yours. We also name our pets and by the tone of our voice we can get our dog to come running with excitement or to have their ears go down in shame. When my mom yelled out, “Wayne Richard Geiger!” I knew I was in trouble. Names are powerful and defining. When was the last time you met someone named Judas?
We some times use the phrase, “make a name for yourself” or someone’s “name up in lights.” What we are saying is a person’s name personifies their character and identity.
The same is true with God. When you talk about God’s name, you talk about God. God’s name is to be revered. For example, several passages from the Bible:
“Praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9).
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
God has a personal and powerful name and He wants to protect it. This is where the third command comes in. God’s command is that His name be used properly. God is extremely protective of His name and His nature.
That means 2 things. First, obviously, God’s name must not be used as an obscenity or curse word. At this point, my desire to be illustrative and give an example, but that desire is overpowered by my desire to be respectful. But, any time we use the words, God, Lord, Jesus, or any other way to describe God and use it improperly, we have violated the third command.
Second, not only must God’s name not be used as an obscenity, it must also not be used flippantly. This is the main thrust of the command. As the command states, “You shall not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain”. The key word is “vain”. The word vain is Shav in Hebrew. It literally means vanity or emptiness.
The command is to not take God’s holy, revered name and associate it with anything that is empty, shallow, or common. God’s name must only be used in connection with praise and adoration. The Old Testament Jews understood this and would never even utter God’s name and would not write it out. Jews today will often write the word “God” with a missing vowel or hyphen out of respect.
Here are some things to think about: The phrase, O-M-G has been floating around for some time. Many people use it as an expression of shock or unbelief. If the “G” stands for God, doesn’t this flippant use of God’s name violate the third command? Also, I’ve heard some people say “Jesus Christ!” but not utter it in a way to bring praise, but to express exasperation, disbelief, or pain. Same idea. One last example, some refer to the mighty God of the universe by calling him, “The Big Man Upstairs”, “The Big Guy”, or “The Man.” None of these phrases captures the essence of God’s holiness and identity.
In short, the third command means that we don’t sacrifice God’s holiness by indiscriminately involving Him in vulgar or vain vocabulary and we don’t make God relevant by bringing Him down to our level.
Our heavenly Father, who is a God of love, mercy, and compassion, wants to be loved by us and deserves to be shown the proper respect and admiration that He alone deserves. So, before you step on that next Lego or catch your toe on chair leg, determine what verbiage should come out of your mouth.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.
by Mayor Mike Todd, City of Grain Valley
Can you believe that we will soon be ushering in the year 2020? So much has happened in our community over the last twenty years. Most of you are aware of the growth that we have experienced. As of the 2000 census, there were just over 5,000 residents in Grain Valley. The US Census Bureau reported in July 2018, a population of 14,277, so it will not surprise us if Grain Valley reaches a population near 15,000 by the reporting of the April 2020 Census.
The growth in population has brought many changes. The City is averaging 10 new home construction permits per month. New businesses are continually coming to Grain Valley, two of which are nearing completion. Taco Bell, north of I-70, will open its doors in the coming weeks, as will TempStop, just north of City Hall. The TempStop will include a BluTaco and Champs Chicken. QuikTrip should be breaking ground soon also. All of these will be great options for families on the go.
The growth we have experienced has had City staff evaluating the conditions and space constraints presented by the current city facilities, including City Hall, the police department and the community center. These facilities were completed in 2001, when the total population of the city was approximately 1/3 of it’s current size. City staff has worked with architects and construction consultants to evaluate the current needs of City staff and amenities for our citizens.
Looking ahead and in an effort to preserve our City’s history, the City purchased property several years ago at the location of the former Sni-A-Bar farms. The 2014 comprehensive plan set the long-term vision to create a community campus at this property. City staff and the project’s partners have appeared at community events seeking public input regarding the project. They also facilitated a community meeting, which was held in October with 200+ in attendance. We encourage citizens to stay informed regarding the project by visiting www.envisiongrainvalley.com.
Our Parks & Recreation Department has been busy throughout the year with programs such as little league baseball and playtime for toddlers, but have also been involved in larger impact projects, such as the Blue Branch Trail. It is a continuation of the City’s Trails Master Plan that focuses on connecting neighborhoods to schools, schools to parks, and parks to the downtown corridor. The Blue Branch Trail extends from Buckner Tarsney Road, west to SW Eagles Parkway, running parallel to Blue Branch Creek. The trail will be completed in the coming months, with plans to add a pedestrian bridge in 2020.
We are gearing up now for the Holiday Festival at Armstrong Park on Thursday, December 5th. The event begins at 6:00 pm with the lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas tree and lights throughout the Park, Main Street, the Community Center and City Hall. We support the Grain Valley Assistance Council throughout the year, but this is a huge event for them as they rely on the community’s support to serve more than 100 families. This year they will be collecting non-perishable food items throughout the evening. Join us to enjoy this tradition as the community comes together to kick off the holiday season with free hot chocolate, cookies and photos with Santa. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to give me a call at 816-719-9436.
Happy holidays to you!