East Valley Tribune

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  • ASU marching band practices for Super Bowl pre-game and halftime shows

    TEMPE, AZ - The ASU marching band is almost ready for a huge performance and it's a performance that will reach millions of people worldwide.Just what are they prepping for?The Super Bowl pre-game show and halftime show with Katy Perry.The entire band will be making an appearance before the big game, but some of the band members will also be taking the stage with the pop star.The performers have been practicing for weeks, but ABC15 got a sneak peek at their practice before the big performance on Sunday.The students plan to have one more rehearsal on Sunday morning before heading to Glendale.

  • Young PCH patients are the all-stars at autograph-signing event

    Just days before one of the biggest sporting events of the year, Phoenix Children’s Hospital hosted a unique event that turned a traditional autograph signing session on its head.Athletes and sports personalities came together and played the role of fans seeking autographs from the young all-star patients. Throughout the morning, patients handed out their own personalized Topps trading cards that featured their photograph and their “stats” – including favorite game day food and favorite NFL team.“It was a great experience to work alongside the Phoenix Children’s Hospital on this fun event and honor these courageous patients, giving them some time in the well-deserved spotlight,” said Topps Manager of Marketing Leigh Anne Minutoli. “Seeing the faces of the kids as some of their favorite athletes asked for their autograph was so special and we’re honored to have been part of the event.”Attending participants included:·      Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals starting running back·      Stepfan Taylor – Arizona Cardinals running back

  • Riding in the Goodyear Blimp

  • Mesa High alumna uses depression to spread joy

    Josie Thompson is a thousand miles away from her Mesa home and unable to escape herself. She’s huddled in the space between the back seat and the trunk of her ’98 Saturn, Lulu, riding through a prolonged journey into darkness.For three days she sits in Lulu’s womb, conjuring thoughts and dreaming the dreams no person wants to run through his or her mind. It’s akin to a waking nightmare; she’s too weak to stand, unable to do anything beyond riding the wave and clinging to something, anything, to survive.Thompson’s life has sustained these severe downs and outs for six years, and she’ll probably suffer through them for the rest of her life. She’s still going though, still moving forward through the darkness that, somewhat ironically, gives her life purpose, because without the darkness, the light she tries to spread wouldn’t be as bright.The way she wasThompson has sustained six years of intermittent hell, which represents less than a quarter of her 26 years on earth. She was that girl in high school: the student-body president, the homecoming queen, the straight-“A” student and the athlete who lettered in three sports at Mesa High School. She also earned an academic scholarship to attend Mesa Community College after she graduated Mesa High in 2007.“I worked my bum off to be the best,” she said.

  • Tastebuds travel south of the border at Tapacubo

    Tempe passersby looking for a new and unique dining experience different from anything else can add Tapacubo to their must-try hot spot list.This new restaurant, located in The Graduate hotel, which recently replaced the Twin Palms on Apache Boulevard, offers customers Mexican and South American-styled food at affordable costs in a vintage ’60s and ‘70s garage-themed location.“We have these large, vintage gas pumps that dispense our margaritas, hubcap chandeliers, and some old cars hanging … that will make you feel like you’re in South America (or) down by the border,” said Tapacubo executive chef, Brian Archibald.Tapacubo, meaning hubcap, is also fully equipped with a bar counter made of 38,000 pesos from Mexico.Archibald said he’s especially proud of Tapacubo’s diverse menu, which offers everything from street-style tacos, to Honduran ceviche and even vegetarian arepas.“Vegetarian dishes are always hard to come across,” Archibald said. “(Tapacubo’s) has a lot of flavor.”

  • Revenue from the sky lifts Valley airports this week

    As fans and visitors descend upon the Valley for the week leading up to the biggest sporting event of the year, so are dollars for the area’s private airports.Falcon Field in Mesa, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Chandler Municipal Airport, Goodyear Airport, Glendale Municipal Airport and others are part of a coordinated program established by the federal government to handle anticipated traffic into and out of the area via charter and private craft.Falcon Executive Aviation, the company in the industry referred to as the fixed-base operator of Mesa’s Falcon Field, will reap a yield from the services it provides aircraft operators, according to Dee Ann Thomas, the airport’s marketing and communications specialist.As of Thursday, the airport had two dozen reservations beyond the usual for a late January week, and the number was climbing.“We work with private recreational or corporate aircraft. Our . . . Falcon Executive Aviation, is taking and managing reservations. They handle and service planes. They’ll park, fuel and take care of planes,” she said.In addition, some airports are offering extra services for pilots and passengers, she added. At Falcon, this includes a lounge where pilots can stay, rest or relax. Some operators also provide a concierge for pilots and passengers.

  • Steven Tyler headlines Rolling Stone party on Super Bowl eve

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler charged up a frenzied crowd on the eve of the Super Bowl that features his beloved New England Patriots. Tyler played fan favorites "Dream On," ''Sweet Emotion" and "Cryin'''at the Rolling Stone party in front of an audience that sang along in unison for most of the songs. The venue was adorned with Rolling Stone covers from over the years, and Tyler made a reference to magazine founder Jann Wenner's influence on the music industry between songs. Tyler followed British pop star Charli XCX, who set the stage with an energetic set. Tyler largely avoided any reference to the Patriots despite a long history with the team. The Boston rocker has been a fan of the Patriots for several years, and famously sang the national anthem in the AFC Championship two years ago before the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens. The performance was widely ridiculed as he botched some of the lyrics. Following the controversy over deflated footballs during this year's AFC title game, Tyler joined Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, John Krasinski and other well-known Patriots fans in a mock video on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in which they claimed responsibility for the air being taken out of the balls. Tyler's top billing at an A-list party on one of the entertainment world's biggest party nights is a testament to his staying power as a rock 'n' roll icon. Aerosmith's longevity spans more than a generation, including their rise to stardom in the early 1970s, a rough period during the early '80s when drugs tore the band apart and a resurgence in the late '80s and early '90s that put them back on the top of the charts. In recent years, Tyler was a judge on "American Idol," endearing him to a younger generation of fans.

  • Rihanna rocks DirecTV party on eve of Super Bowl

    GLENDALE - The crowd at DirecTV's Super Saturday Night party came for Rihanna, and got a healthy dose of Kanye West as a bonus.West trotted on stage as Rihanna sang the opening lines of their hit "All of the Lights," a surprise guest at an event that's become known for delivering shows from music's superstars on the eve of the Super Bowl.Rihanna opened the performance with "Rock Star" and moved through several her hits, including "Umbrella," "Rude Boy" and "We Found Love."She reached out and touched fans and moved effortlessly around a semicircle stage that allowed her to reach fans throughout the venue.West also interacted with the audience, slapping hands as he performed. He pointed and glanced up at a balcony where his wife, Kim Kardashian, watched and snapped a selfie with friends.A few feet away actor Aaron Paul leaned on a rail bobbing his head to the music, and the crowd included other celebrities and athletes such as retired NFL players Tony Gonzalez and Michael Irvin and entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who helped throw the party.

  • Celebs, attendees at Scottsdale Super Bowl party split on Big Game favorite

    One night before the Super Bowl and the main question posed to the attendees of the Rolling Stone Live in Arizona pregame party in Scottsdale was, who's going to win on Sunday night?For Craig Robinson, known for his work on “The Office” and for “Hot Tub Time Machine,” the answer was resoundingly the Seattle Seahawks over the New England Patriots.“Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin doubled down with Robinson and sided with Seattle's squad. Then again, Martin, who regularly blogs about football, said he's an devout fan of the New York Giants and New York Giants – two of the Patriots' biggest rival.One of the quirks of the night and impending game for Martin came 20 years ago when he pitched a pilot in which aliens invaded the Super Bowl. The show was never picked up, but Martin said the screenplay he wrote is going to be released as a graphic novel in the future.The crowd at the party hosted at the The Venue Scottsdale was split relatively evenly, with numerous fans garbed in either Seahawks or Patriots gear. Show headliner and Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler didn't reference the game during his performance, although he is a known Patriots fan, while opener Charli XCX didn't advocate for either team during her set.Still, there were others in attendance who just happy to watch tonight's game in Glendale.

  • ‘Black or White’ a solid story about race relations

    There are two movies currently in theaters about American heroes. One of them is “American Sniper,” which centers on a white American hero. The other is “Selma,” which centers on a black American hero. “American Sniper” has exceeded all expectations with its box office results and Oscar nominations while “Selma” has done just okay. While both of these movies are great and important achievements, they seem to have created a wedge between some people. Given this controversy, it’s appropriate that we’d get a movie like “Black or White” right about now.Kevin Costner gives one of his strongest performances in a while as Elliot Anderson, a lawyer raising his biracial granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell). Elliot’s daughter died in childbirth and his wife was recently killed in a car accident. Octavia Spencer is right at home as Rowena, Eloise’s paternal grandmother who doesn’t think Elliot can raise her alone. With a big family and steady job of her own, Rowena hires her lawyer brother (Anthony Mackie) to get full custody. Things only get more complicated when Eloise’s druggy father (André Holland) returns and Rowena pushes him to take responsibility for his daughter. What ensues is a bit like the interracial version of “Kramer vs. Kramer.”The reason “Black or White” works is because its characters are never, for a lack of better words, black and white. None of these people are bad per se, but they all have human flaws. Although he loves his granddaughter with all his heart, Elliot isn’t sure how to be a single parent and often turns to the bottle for answers. That doesn’t mean Rowena has the right to take Eloise away from Elliot either. As nurturing as she is, Rowena doesn’t always know what’s best. After all, the woman did raise a crack addict whom she forgives one too many times. “Black or White” is all about finding the middle ground when it becomes to race, family, and simply doing what’s best.With powerful performances, honest characters, and wise commentary, there are times where “Black or White” demonstrates the makings of a great picture about race relations. There are a few problems, though. For starters, the humor can occasionally feel awkward and out-of-place. Sometimes the comedy works, particularly the scenes involving Mpho Koaho as a tutor always equipped with credentials. But then we get an uneven scene, such as when Elliot tells Eloise about her grandma’s departure and the conversation is partially played for laughs. A film like “The Help” did a much better job at juggling drama and comedy, despite what some say about that infamous pie scene.Also, for a film about the dynamics between black and white people, we spend a lot more time with Costner’s character than any of the African-American ones. They’re not underdeveloped per se, but a few more scenes told from Rowena’s point of view definitely would have elevated the story. Even little Eloise is kind of overshadowed at times, although the film does effectively develop her relationships with all her parental figures. This is actually one of the few custody movies where we see the adults talk to the child involved about who she wants to live with. At the very least, Eloise is a significant figure here and not just a puppet.  Then there’s the film’s final act. Without giving too much away, “Black or White” leads to an action climax in which two characters butt heads. It’s forced, it’s cheap, and it just seems tacked on. As unnecessary as the climax is, it still doesn’t ruin the experience. Writer and director Mike Binder’s film might not be a transcendent story about race, but it is a solid one that will hopefully encourage more pictures like this. Considering how divided people sometimes are, we can never have too many movies about compromise.

  • Quick look: New this week at the movies

    New this weekBlack or WhiteThis is the story of a grandfather who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandmother seeks custody with the help of her brother, the little girl is torn between two families who love her deeply. With the best intentions at heart, both families fight for what they feel is right and are soon forced to confront their true feelings about race, forgiveness, and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white. Starring: Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell, Gillian Jacobs, Jennifer Ehle, Anthony Mackie, Bill Burr.  PG-13Black SeaA rogue submarine captain pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As greed and desperation take control on board their claustrophobic vessel, the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other to fight for their own survival.  Starring: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Konstantin Khabenskiy, Michael Smiley, Jodie Whittaker, Karl Davies.  RLegends From the Sky

  • AP Source: Missy Elliott to join Perry for Super Bowl half

    PHOENIX (AP) — Missy Elliott is going to "Work It" at the Super Bowl with Katy Perry. A person familiar with the plans for Sunday's halftime show told The Associated Press on Thursday that Grammy winner Elliott is slated to make a surprise appearance during Perry's performance. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Elliott's participation had not been announced by the NFL. Elliott was featured on a remix of Perry's song "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" in 2011. During a news conference Thursday, Perry hinted at Elliott's involvement in the Super Bowl act, which also will feature Lenny Kravitz. Perry said the halftime show will include an "old school" female singer — but did not say who that would be. "When you hear the first ring of the chord," Perry promised, "I think jaws will drop and faces will melt." Elliott is a multiplatinum rapper, singer and producer whose Grammy Awards from the early 2000s include Best Rap Solo Performance for "Get Ur Freak On," and Best Female Rap Solo Performance for "Work It" and "Scream a.k.a. Itchin'." Other Super Bowl halftime shows have included unannounced performances, including by singer Usher and former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash in 2011.

Tech Data Doctors Deals

  • Gilbert Chamber awards top businessman, businesswoman of the year

    The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce hosted its fifth-annual Businessman and Businesswoman of the Year luncheon Wednesday afternoon, in which the chamber highlighted the success of Gilbert’s top businessperson.Winners of Businessman and Businesswoman of the Year were JW Rayhons, president of Rayhons Financial Solutions, and Joan Krueger, senior vice president of RE/MAX Solutions.Rayhons began his business 15 years ago, focusing all his efforts toward assisting his clients live a particular lifestyle they desired.Within the past few years, Rayhons Financial Solutions has experienced revenue growth of more than 16 percent, and in 2014 experienced a revenue growth of 41 percent.Rayhons supports the community of Gilbert by serving on a number of committees such as being a chairperson for the East Valley Dignity Health Foundation and serving on the board of directors at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.He also served as a chairman for the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce for two years.

  • Financial advice: Keeping the peace when it comes to love and money

    Romantic relationships can be wonderful but also challenging when complicated by finances. Resources are limited, the pressures of life are often great, and partners may have different views and values when it comes to managing finances. In fact, money is among the top issues couples fight about, and it’s commonly cited as the primary cause of divorce.To help you better navigate the financial landscape of your relationship, I’m breaking down the most common disputes and offering tips on how to reconcile differences.Different financial “values”People are generally very emotional about money. Perhaps this is because money is tied to some deeper fear or insecurity such as personal worth or value. Or, it could be the result of traumatic experiences related to finances or attitudes fostered during childhood.Many individuals have a preconceived notion (often subconsciously) of the role of money in their lives. For some, the value in money may lie in enjoying life experiences. For others, it may be in financial security or independence. Still for others, it may be a status symbol or a method of self-validation.It’s important for each person in a relationship to identify their financial values and be honest with themselves about what money means to them. Only then can a couple have a meaningful dialogue about how to manage their money to meet both partners’ needs. There may be times when it’s appropriate to work with a professional to serve as a neutral facilitator.

  • Steep drop in gas prices over

    For the first time in weeks, gas prices in Arizona have fallen by less than a penny, while the national average has actually increased during that same stretch.AAA Arizona reports the average fuel cost is down in Arizona to $1.906, representing a 0.9-cent decline from the week prior. Tucson has taken hold of the lowest state average at $1.785 per gallon, while Flagstaff has the most expensive price at $2.217.The national average has bumped up by 0.3 cents to $2.044.

  • Gilbert Chamber of Commerce to host ReferenceUSA workshop

    The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce is hosting a workshop teaching business owners how to use the ReferenceUSA database on Jan. 29. The workshop will run from 4-5 p.m. at the chamber of commerce building.ReferenceUSA helps business owners compile business and consumer data.For more information on ReferenceUSA and the workshop, visit www.business.gilbertaz.com/events.

  • Take me home: Handsome Boston is playful and fun

    Boston is an incredibly handsome 2-year-old American Bobtail capable of charming the socks off of you with his engaging purrsonality. This sweet guy will happily run over and offer a greeting when you enter the room in the hopes of soliciting attention from you. This super snuggly fellow loves to be petted and will happily curl up in your lap so you can pet him until your arm falls off. Boston also enjoys being brushed, although playing with the brush is a prerequisite to being brushed. At the conclusion of snuggle time, Boston is content to follow you around until he finds a spot where he can hang out near you to either gaze at you adoringly or to continue the conversation that he might’ve started while on your lap. Boston is playful — he especially seems to enjoy chasing anything related to strings. However, if he had to choose one toy to take to a desert island, there is no question he’d choose the laser toy. Boston also gets a kick out of playing floor hockey with wadded up paper balls and attacking brooms.Boston gets along fine with other friendly kitties and is very intrigued by the resident dogs in his foster home. If interested in learning more about Boston, fill out an application for him today at www.azrescue.org.

  • Gilbert family opens bakery shop

    Some passions seem to never truly fade or go away.Jay and Danielle Lunt, who are from Gilbert, found this notion to be evident when they decided to open their bakery business, Rise Up Bakery, in Gilbert this past December.The idea of opening a bakery didn’t just come out of the blue.Jay originally began in the bakery business back in 1993 when he and Danielle lived in Las Vegas.While in Las Vegas, Jay became the owner of the Whole Grain Natural Bread Company bakery shop.He found success and happiness with the bakery in Sin City, but he and Danielle ultimately made the decision to close-up shop and move to Arizona to be closer to family.

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  • Spiritual side: Planting the seeds now for a healthier world

    There are many new years — the calendar year, the fiscal year, the school year. Birthdays and anniversaries mark special turnings in our lives. The Jewish calendar designates Tu B’shvat (the 15th day of the month of Shvat) as the “Birthday of the Trees.” In ancient times, if a tree produced fruit before Tu B’shvat, it was reckoned for the previous year. This year, on the Gregorian calendar, the New Year of the Trees occurs on Feb. 4. Tu B’shvat has become a day for environmental awareness, a chance for us all to take stock of the global reality and our own environmental impact.I read about environmental degradation — about melting glaciers and mountains of trash in the oceans. I see images of abnormal frogs and sea bird corpses with bellies full of plastic bits. It is profoundly troubling. But what can I do?As individual people, members of simple, single households, it’s hard to believe that our choices make much difference or that we can have an impact. And while it is certainly true that we don’t have the influence of a multinational corporation or government, we do have some. It’s important to my humanity that I exert this, that I assert my power and agency rather than acceding it to those whose interests are clearly opposed to my own.If you’ve fallen into a rut with your relationship to a healthy environment, let the Birthday of the Trees allow you to reset. Now can be the time to adopt new practices you once thought were beyond your reach. Consider:1. Take a look at your household products. Are you using cleansers that are gentle on the on the environment? Chemicals that are harsh on the environment are harsh on our bodies, too. Many shampoos (and other products) use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a foaming agent that’s a known risk to the body and the environment. Read your labels. It’s easy to buy products without SLS these days. If cost has been a barrier for you to use environmentally friendly solutions, it’s time to take another look at them in the store: Prices have fallen.2. If you have a yard or balcony, consider adding plants that attract and sustain humming birds, butterflies and bees. Urbanization has destroyed feeding grounds for these creatures; even one flowering pot could be the oasis they need. Also be sure your irrigation isn’t wasting water, whether through dripping, over-watering or delivering at the wrong time of day. The utility company websites have great resources for this.

  • Organizations to give out free spay and neuter vouchers

    The Arizona Humane Society and Fix.Adopt.Save will provide free spay and neuter vouchers in advance of World Spay Day in Tempe on Feb. 3.Hosted at Tempe Marketplace, the organizations will give out 500 vouchers for pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered. The vouchers are part of the organizations’ recognition of World Spay Day, which is scheduled for Feb. 24.The event is from 7 a.m. to noon at the mall, located at 200 E. Rio Salado Parkway.

  • Keeping the Faith: The Kudzu Conspiracy

    "The kingdom of God is like kudzu planted in a field." Would Jesus have ever said such a thing? Yes, I think so. You see, he once compared God's work in this world to a growing ""mustard seed" and like ""yeast mixed in with the dough." Making the jump from mustard and yeast to kudzu is not as far a leap as you might think.The mustard of first century Palestine overgrew and consumed everything around it. A farmer who planted mustard in her garden could not turn her back on it for very long. If she did, it would overrun every other vegetable or herb in the field. Yeast worked the same way. Mysteriously, inexplicably to those living before the understandings of microscopic science, yeast took over the bland, tasteless flour and transformed it.Illustrated in the mustard seed and the yeast, Jesus makes clear that God can overwhelm and transform the very nature of this world with a steady, unstoppable, persistent, invasive force. Honestly, I don't know much about mustard seeds or yeast fungi; but as a native of Georgia, I do know a little bit about kudzu.Kudzu was introduced to North America on the United States' 100th birthday. The Asian plant was quickly loved by gardeners, what with its large green leaves and purple blooms, and nurseries began selling seedlings through the mail.But it was the Dust Bowl years that really rooted kudzu in the American soil and psyche. The U.S. government was seeking an effective way to conserve soil, and kudzu fit the bill perfectly. The vine was touted as a "wonder plant," and the USDA used the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s to distribute and plant the seeds everywhere -- especially the South.They thought, once the soil was healthfully restored, that farmers could just plow over it and return to planting cotton, soybean, or corn. Little did anyone know that the Southeastern United States was the perfect environment for kudzu to grow, and grow and grow and grow. Kudzu has now climbed, coiled, and slithered its way all over the Southeast, changing the landscape while becoming a central characteristic of Southern culture.

  • Take me home: Handsome Boston is playful and fun

    Boston is an incredibly handsome 2-year-old American Bobtail capable of charming the socks off of you with his engaging purrsonality. This sweet guy will happily run over and offer a greeting when you enter the room in the hopes of soliciting attention from you. This super snuggly fellow loves to be petted and will happily curl up in your lap so you can pet him until your arm falls off. Boston also enjoys being brushed, although playing with the brush is a prerequisite to being brushed. At the conclusion of snuggle time, Boston is content to follow you around until he finds a spot where he can hang out near you to either gaze at you adoringly or to continue the conversation that he might’ve started while on your lap. Boston is playful — he especially seems to enjoy chasing anything related to strings. However, if he had to choose one toy to take to a desert island, there is no question he’d choose the laser toy. Boston also gets a kick out of playing floor hockey with wadded up paper balls and attacking brooms.Boston gets along fine with other friendly kitties and is very intrigued by the resident dogs in his foster home. If interested in learning more about Boston, fill out an application for him today at www.azrescue.org.

  • Wilmot: Keeping our spiritual lives flexible

    Spandex and spiritual workouts — this may be the stretch you’re looking for.There was a time when I would have avoided pants with the word spandex on the label in the same way that I try hard to avoid catching the flu! My short-lived experience of spandex was to try some nifty spandex leggings to get in the right frame of mind for a workout. That lasted about as long as most people’s New Year’s resolutions. It took some time, but I finally got to a place in my life where I was willing to give spandex another chance. Fortunately, spandex was not the only fiber listed on the label, just one of them. Plus, it became increasingly difficult to find any pants that didn’t have spandex in them. Anyway, the new stretchy and forgiving pants turned out to comfortable and pretty flattering (yep, that’s my opinion). Sometimes change really is good.No good shopping experience, including actually finding pants that are comfortable, fit well, and look good should never go unexamined for a spiritual connection. In fact, if we embraced more of the qualities of the expansive give and forgive of spandex, our lives would be easier, simpler, and a lot more peaceful. Looking back at our Judeo-Christian history for a moment, it seems that there’s not much give in the attitudes of some religious leaders we come across. With few exceptions the message from the Scribes and Pharisees was pretty much my way or the highway. Jesus recognized their problem in the parable of the new wine and old wineskins from Luke 5:37-38: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.” Those old wineskins just couldn’t handle the new wine that Jesus embodies, teaches and is ultimately willing to die for in order to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. God’s hands are always stretching out to touch us. God’s gifts are always available to bless us expansively and abundantly. Through our faith in Christ Jesus, our earthly lives expand beyond time and space and into everlasting life in Him.Old ways and old habits can become so comfortable that we’re not willing to risk faith, or stretch ourselves. Our mindset can become precisely that: set, fixed, immovable and unchanging. If our thinking is atrophied and our hearts hardened, then we’ve stopped allowing the Holy Spirit to keep our hearts supple and our minds exercised in God’s word, and stretching to discern God’s will. If that’s happened or happening, is it an issue of who’s in control? How stubborn are we being in holding tightly onto some aspect of our lives, shutting out God’s healing and cleansing light? Is ego getting in the way of the Way? Or perhaps it’s about fear. Are we frightened to look at the new gifts God is offering, or worried about the new opportunities God is preparing us for?Trusting in the Lord is one important element to keeping ourselves open to God’s will for our lives, and prayer is the key to building that trust. If prayer isn’t a regular habit yet, this may be a stretch, yet prayer is a kind of spiritual spandex. It helps us to stretch ourselves toward the Lord, and gives us the kind of flexibility and strength we need to reach out to serve others. Prayer is an awesome way to keep us in shape. Dwelling in God’s word, otherwise known as stretching the horizons of our understanding of God’s living word, is another great way to get a spiritual workout. It helps to be part of a community of faith to explore the real shape of some of the strange dips and bumps in our spiritual journeys that we all experience from time to time. Finding a community of faith is equally important when (notice I didn’t say “if”) we’re feeling stretched to the max by life’s demands — work, career, family, financial pressures, time constraints, or spiritual discontent — and can’t seem to find answers to our most pressing questions or issues. Keeping our spiritual lives flexible, helps us to grow in all the right ways!• The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is priest-in-charge at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe. Reach her at rector@stjamestempe.orgor or at (480) 345-2686.

  • Take me home: Sweet Bubba is a typical hound dog

    Bubba is a 2-year-old Basset blend. He landed at Friends for Life Animal Rescue in Gilbert by way of the Yuma Humane Society, where he was considered a stray.Bubba is a “typical hound,” He’ll follow his nose anywhere (which might explain how he got lost in the first place).His ideal home would be one with some knowledge of hound behaviors. Bubba likes to cuddle with his people. He’d probably do fine with older children. He has met a few dogs and is vocal (like hounds are) when he meets them, but he does play with other dogs.Bubba is neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and licensed. He has tested negative for heartworm. Bubba’s adoption fee is $225 and he’s patiently waiting for his new family at Friends for Life’s adoption center.For more information, call (480) 497-8296 or visit www.azfriends.org.

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