Healthy Life, October 2015

YMCA Sports: Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins!

by Kristen Hogan

Lyla & Rowdy Gaudet-2YMCA Sports emphasizes a holistic approach to developing the spiritual, mental, and physical well being of a child. The Y’s youth sports philosophy is that everybody plays, everybody wins, which allows kids to participate in a non-competitive environment that emphasizes fun, skill development, teamwork, and character development.

Y sports programs are led by volunteer coaches who help children develop their sports skills while ensuring each child has the opportunity to play. Coaches also serve as role models to emphasize the Y’s four character traits: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Millions of people around the world have been introduced to sports through the YMCA youth sports program. The YMCA has also made significant contributions in the history of sports; some of those contributions include the invention of basketball, racquetball and volleyball.

YMCA instructor, William Morgan, who thought basketball was too strenuous for businessmen, invented volleyball in the 1890s, by blending the elements of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball. He called his invention “mintonette”. In 1896, at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., the name “volley ball” was first used to describe the back-and forth manner in which the ball flew over the net. Today, there are more than 46 million Americans who play volleyball.

Basketball was invented in December 1891, by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass. The school’s director, Dr. Luther Gulick had given Naismith, the YMCA’s physical education teacher, two weeks to develop an indoor winter game to challenge a class of future Y directors. Naismith used peach baskets and hung them from the bottom of the running track on the second level of the gym and then taught his new game: basketball. Not only did the Y invent basketball but also the game’s first professional team came from a Y. Today, basketball is the second most popular sport in the world.

Smith College Basketball 1904-2Racquetball was invented in 1950 at the Greenwich YMCA, in Connecticut by Y member, Joseph Sobeck. After growing tired of handball and squash he tried to think of an alternative sport. Using paddleball and platform tennis rackets as a pattern, he came up with the idea of using a new, short strung racquet similar to a platform tennis paddle to allow a greater variety of shots. Sobeck promoted the sport to nearby Ys and formed the Paddle Rackets Association. In the 1980s, racquetball became one of the fastest growing sports in the US. In the 90s there were approximately 10 million US players and 14 million players in more than 90 countries.

The Y is proud of its rich history in sports and continues to offer innovative programs for kids and for the community. Everyone plays, everyone wins, everyone who wants to play, can! The Y’s mission is to provide quality programs for all, if you or someone you know needs financial assistance to participate in YMCA sports or any other Y program, please visit the nearest Y to find out about the YMCA Scholarship Program.

Healthy Life, October 2015

Start Small and Get Active!

by Stephanie Ryan Malin

October is that lovely time of year when we all breathe a collective sigh of relief, welcoming in a change in the weather. Farewell heat and humidity, hello crisp fall air! With the reprieve from hot summer days, what better time to think about starting a new walking routine or returning to your outdoor running routine?

Katzmarzyk-2“It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to add in more activity to your day,” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, associate executive director of population research and physical activity researcher at Pennington Biomedical. “Exercise doesn’t have to be exclusive to going to the gym. If you want to get moving, try adding in just a few more steps here and there. Park just a little farther away from the grocery store or take a stroll around your office every hour.”

What is important, Katzmarzyk says, is moving away from sitting all day. Using our legs by walking, jogging—even standing—engages our leg muscles, which are the biggest muscle groups in our bodies. When we move our legs, we are burning glucose, which translates to more calories burned and a lowered chance of insulin resistance and diabetes.

“Our research shows that sitting too much, even if you work out regularly, can still be dangerous. That’s why we emphasize moving more throughout the day,” Katzmarzyk said.

His colleague at Pennington Biomedical, Dr. Robert L. Newton, Jr., suggests breaking down sedentary periods to no more than 60 minutes at a time.

“Even taking short breaks to stroll to a colleague’s office instead of picking up the phone or sending them an e-mail can make a difference. Over an extended period of time, we could see benefits for your heart, weight loss and we can reduce the risk for diabetes,” Newton said.

Lunch time is a prime opportunity to get in some quality movement, according to Newton. He recommends carving out time to get your heart rate up with moderate-to-vigorous activity.

“You’ll know you’ve reached that level when you’re out of breath, with enough air to talk but not to sing,” said Newton. “If you can take three ten-minute breaks throughout your day where you are getting to this point, you’ve reached the recommendation for 30 minutes of moderate to physical activity for your day.”

NewtonStarting small can be easy with Pennington Biomedical’s customized plans for walking, jogging and running.
Though they wrapped up their second annual community event – the Doc’s DASH 5k & 1-mile fun run on September 26 – they are still providing free beginner, intermediate and advanced walking and running plans for both 5K & 1-mile distances on their website:

“Exercise is really close to our hearts because it not only has numerous health benefits and helps to prevent against chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure – exercise is also a focus of our research. We’re already looking forward to Doc’s DASH 2016!” said Melissa Lupo, Doc’s DASH race coordinator.

If you are interested in learning more about customized training plans for walking, running or jogging, visit

BRCLM Lagniappe, October 2015

Out ‘da Bayou

by Jehan Seals

OutDaBayouJohnJacksonPicture this: tinted golden sky over a beautiful blue lake, birds chirp, fish swim, gators roam, and nature has free course. This awesome imagery isn’t just a piece of God’s heavenly portrait or rather some place hidden in the well known Garden of Eden, it’s yours and within arm’s reach. Right here in the surrounding areas of Baton Rouge, nature thrives, and there are many who take pleasure in enjoying the existence of wildlife as nature unfolds. One such is John Jackson, a small town country boy whose upbringing consisted largely of hunting and fishing.

“Fishing and hunting and also photography I learned from my father, which is the reason I love what I do today.” With his experience in TV and skill in the outdoors, John has now hosted and produced outdoor TV for 15 years. With a television show of his own titled “Out Da Bayou,” John now takes his turn in front of the camera, while simultaneously shooting and producing the show. “Out Da Bayou” features local fisherman who share John’s passion for the outdoors. John explains that it’s an honor to showcase those who preserve the intended purpose of the land.

“The people who live and work here are the salt of the earth, and I truly believe this is one of the last places where the people really live off of the land,” John said. “Like this one fisherman I know who catches rattles snakes when he can to make hides; he also catches alligators and crawfish. He’s a fishing guy who is right now on a movie set in New Orleans being paid to catch wild hogs and snakes off the property of the set.”

“Out Da Bayou” covers a wide range of outdoor action, which sets the show apart from your typical outdoor show. Now in its third season the show continues to gain momentum and is committed to featuring the best of the bayou.

BRCLM Lagniappe, October 2015

Chef KD’s Prayer Closet

by Jehan Seals

ChefKDFamilyWhere nature and heaven collide, serenity and peace appear as witness to God’s great creation. This statement is truth to Dutchtown native Kevin Diez, affectionately known as Chef KD. Born to Sterling and Shirley Diez, young Kevin found pleasure in the outdoors. His family members were hunters and fisherman and he quickly got accustomed to the lifestyle. He recalls leaving home at daylight with salt, pepper, and box of matches to go hunting.

“I would cook what I would kill then return home before dark,” KD said. He explains how the real life experiences groomed him for upcoming awards and recognition. At 6-years-old he won his first fishing tournament and at 8, cooked his first jambalaya with Vienna sausage. This laid the foundation for the road ahead.

At 30, KD bought his family’s grocery store and met his future wife Collette DeGruy. Together they opened Diez Seafood, which they later turned it into Chef KD’s catering. With more than 17,000 catering jobs under their belt, they were successfully running their business and also raising a family. With six children and nine grandchildren, over the years they somehow managed to make it all work.

KD attributes their success to close friends, but mainly God’s will. He talks about his journey and how God has blessed him beyond his wildest dreams. He refers to the scripture in Luke 12:48 which states, “ To whom much is given much is required.” Specifically, he recalls an event where God required the people’s attention.

“I was asked to introduce Skip Bertman at the BR Chamber of Commerce breakfast, but was instructed not to pray, only have a moment of silence.” He vividly described the disorderly atmosphere in the auditorium and contemplated on how to gain order.

“I turned away from the crowd and silently prayed to God,” he said. “Father in the name of your Son I plead the blood of Christ over the confusion and noise and command your peace be here, in Jesus name, Amen.” KD recalls how immediately after the prayer, complete silence filled the room, so much so that you could hear a pin drop. KD describes this as a WOW moment!

When asked about that moment he simply said, “I prayed.” KD affirmed that your prayer closet can be any place you seek God. With as many stories as he has recipes, KD explains the key ingredients include food, family and faith, which combine to create a wonderful heart healthy lifestyle where all foods are prepared fresh with no MSG or flavor enhancers.

“While watching God’s sunrise and sunset, I enter into a secret place, my prayer closet with God.”

BRCLM Lagniappe, October 2015

SportQuest: Sowing Gospel Seeds in Gardere

by Danielle Thomas

SportQuest (SQ) is a Christian missions organization that sends teams of high school and college athletes to cities all over the world to use sports camps to share the gospel with children.

Since 2006, I have been on ten SQ teams in seven cities and three countries. But, Baton Rouge is my favorite. I moved here in 2010 to attend graduate school. The Lord called me to be a missionary when I was 16 and, frankly, Baton Rouge was a disappointing destination. I thought the Lord would send me overseas after college, but instead, he made it clear I needed to attend LSU in Baton Rouge. Near the end of my first year here, The Chapel led a service project in Gardere, which I had never heard of even though I lived less than ten minutes away.

During the project, I noticed no one was engaging the kids in the park. I used my SQ experience to coordinate some games, and other people joined the fun. Soon I stepped back to watch volunteers play basketball, soccer, and football with 50-60 children. The Holy Spirit struck like lightening saying, “Here. This is where I want you.” And the call to missions when I was 16-years-old began to be worked out in the most unexpected of ways. My mission was to use sports to build relationships and share the gospel in Gardere.

SportQuest Baton Rouge (SQBR) has taken place in Gardere every summer since 2012. Each year, the Lord reveals a deeper picture of the spiritual battle being waged in Gardere. In 2012, I saw strongholds of darkness that exist in the neighborhood, but in 2013, I received a vision of light conquering that darkness. In 2014, God provided the first fruits when several children asked to begin relationships with Christ and a local volunteer was baptized. Additionally, the Lord began to build strongholds of light in Gardere to resist the darkness, and several Christian organizations established offices in the community.

In 2015, God reminded me his plans are greater than mine, and challenged me to trust him in every moment. Rain and storms threatened camp each day, but when plans failed, the Lord provided alternative ministry opportunities. Resistance and setbacks are a part of spiritual warfare, but God works out his plans in spite of, and even through, these storms.

God has used SQBR to sow Gospel seeds in Gardere every summer. He has planted me in the community and continues to provide ministry roots through relationships with people from Gardere who are passionate about serving their community and partnerships with other organizations. There is currently a Christian school, Christian tutoring center, and Christian sports program operating year-round in Gardere. The Lord is using his people to crush strongholds of darkness and shine his healing light in the broken places. I’m excited to be a part of his work in Gardere, and so thankful he sent me to Baton Rouge. There’s no place I’d rather be right now than here.


ABOUT DANIELLE: Danielle is a sixth year graduate student, and a graduate instructor, in sociology at LSU. Every year she gets a little crazier and busier as the Lord leads her deeper into ministry in Gardere. Her dissertation research focuses on the Gardere Youth Alliance (GYA) football and cheerleading program (Go Packers!) and she was recently hired as the assistant to the Director of the GYA. She will be planning the fifth SQBR project right around the time she is trying to write and defend her dissertation next summer (pray for her sanity!). If you would like to join the Lord’s work in Gardere through praying, giving, or serving in tutoring and/or athletic programs, email Danielle at

Learning For Life, October 2015

Tori Bliss: Running Toward the Lord

by Krista Bordelon
02-27-15 MWTR SEC Indoor Championships LSU senior Tori Bliss celebrates, Friday, February, 27, 2015, after winning the shot put title and setting a new meet record of 60 feet, 1 inch at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Kelly Price
02-27-15 MWTR SEC Indoor Championships
LSU senior Tori Bliss celebrates, Friday, February, 27, 2015, after winning the shot put title and setting a new meet record of 60 feet, 1 inch at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Lexington, Ky.
Photo by Kelly Price

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20

To Tori Bliss, a 5th year senior at LSU and Portage, Ind. native, this verse means that even in our best, God can do so much more, and she is living her life in pursuit of “more”. Living to embrace every aspect of her life in a way that can be used for God’s glory.

Tori says she has just one message she would like to share, a message that there is purpose in the failure and to accept both the good and the bad in our lives with equal recognition.

“Don’t be afraid of failure. The more you grow and understand God, the more you know that He will boast in our weakness. Recognize failure as growth. Recognize wrong and move on.” Perfection is not the goal; just embrace who you were created to be. Live life based on your talents and your strengths as well as know your own weaknesses and struggles.

“Be the girl that everybody looks at and says, ‘Man, she’s so good [at whatever it is you are doing]. Embrace being talented too, it’s not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of.” For Tori, her talent has provided her with many opportunities, and her failures have helped her become a better person. That is what life is all about for her.

In 7th grade, Tori became involved with track and field, focusing on shot put and discus. Now, as she is moving on into the professional level you can see the strength, training, and endurance that such a sport has required of her throughout the years. She describes it as a “big picture” sport. The weight of the shot put doesn’t change from high school to pro, so the focus becomes developing your technique, your control, your strategy, and your endurance.

It is a high pressure, high stress, low spotlight event for the athletes who compete, so it simply out of love for the sport and not for the money that is to be made in the “flashier” events. In fact, she will be working in order to support herself while training and competing at the professional level.

Unlike other sporting events, Tori still hasn’t hit her peak. “It’s just a waiting game to see when someone will hit that big throw. It could be at any moment, and then you’ve got to step up your game.” Compared to only 4 years in college to develop on that level, a professional has 10-15 years to develop and the athletes usually hit their peak at a higher age than most sports (around 27-29). Her PR now is 60′ 8” (well above the average college woman’s throw of 53′-55′) and she will need to push herself into the 63′-65′ range.

MHEJYQFITJODKNZ.20150228040122-2As she describes the event and all that it entails, it is easy to see the parallels outlined in Scripture for Christian living, discipline, and endurance, and Tori has used her position to speak to the glory of God through it all.

“I was raised as an only child in a single parent, non-Christian home. I had cousins who went to Christian school, so my only exposure was their [school] plays. It isn’t like it is here in the south, where everyone goes to church whether they are a Christian or not.” Her first real exposure to Christ was when a fellow athlete invited her to Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). “Everyone was so nice, talkative, and friendly.”

At a time when she was struggling to feel “at home” here in Louisiana, FCA provided her with a chance to build relationships with others and form a relationship with Christ. She had the opportunity to witness her teammate, Kaitlyn Moreau, get her life completely turned around by God at the college athlete retreat.

“God just totally wrecked her, and she just became on fire, and her fire hasn’t really dimmed since then, and that was in 2012. God used her in a huge way to show me how powerful He was.” Later, at an FCA meeting, Tori felt a huge tug on her heart and gave her life to Christ.

IMG_2827-2“The feeling that I had was insane. I felt like right then and there I could run a marathon. It was radiant.” Like many other Christians, at one point Tori self admittedly “shied away” a bit in her faith. She had met a lot of friends, had grown comfortable here in Louisiana, was having a great season, and was doing a lot of partying. When, in a huge upset, she didn’t make finals, she was instead given a different opportunity. In what would have been the week of nationals, she instead attended FCA camp and had the opportunity to lead a middle school group. “God used that and I realized I needed to keep God at the center of my life. From then on was when things changed and I became secure in Him.”

She is now on leadership for FCA and volunteers at Healing Place Church with the children’s ministry. “I’ve noticed that when things are going bad, it’s because I haven’t been pursuing God the way I should. I hadn’t been taking advantage of my opportunities.” Since she did not grow up in a Christian environment, Tori finds great joy in seeing children’s hearts so open and receptive to the gospel.

“They have such a child-like faith; just believing, no questioning. They don’t have to argue within themselves yet about all of the beliefs that they have that go against what they are learning about God.” Tori describes a major turning point in her Christian leadership when she realized that it wasn’t a “competition” (something hard for an athlete not to focus on).

“You don’t have to worry about how many people you are getting to come [under your leadership], you focus on who you have, stay focused in prayer, prepare your heart for whatever God has planned. Once I realized that, my small group grew to three times as many people as I had before.” Her mantra became “Not my words” something that each Christian should be living by. “My heart was focused on pride and success, so He wasn’t ready to give me that. I was speaking and thriving on a response, versus changing lives and pointing people to God.”

Now Tori lives her life one way, running toward the Lord in all that she does.

October 2015, Reading For Life

A Review of: Who Will Be My Father?

Written and Reviewed by Cheri Bowling

Who Will Be My Father? is the true story of Wilson Bugembe, an AIDS orphan who went from living on the streets to become an international rock star using his fame and fortune to help the orphans of Uganda.

WhoWillBeMyFathecoverprint-2Devastated over the loss of his parents to AIDS, 9-year-old Wilson Bugembe finds himself living on the streets of Kampala, Uganda. Determined to fulfill a promise he made to his dying father, Wilson struggles to find a way to complete his education. When reaching his goal seems impossible, God intervenes, but He has a much bigger plan in mind. Although Wilson’s immediate needs are met, it isn’t until he finds himself on his face, surrendering to a loving God he had blamed for his father’s death, that Wilson’s life takes a dramatic turn. Soon after, his heavenly Father launches him into a life of miracles, worldwide recognition and a mission to save the orphans of Uganda. 

Although the book deals with difficult subjects such as AIDS, grief, homelessness, isolation, anger, hypocrisy, and feelings of isolation and insecurity, it does so with an honesty that is balanced by grace, beauty and humor. Wilson’s story is inspirational, lighting the way through life’s darkest moments and paving the way for a child to begin to understand that there can be great gain through great loss. The story’s beautiful illustrations by Kymber Janes use light and color to reflect life and love even in the darkest moments. It is the kind of book I would have been thrilled to have in my children’s library. Who Will Be My Father? was written for children, particularly, but not exclusively, boys 6-12 years of age.

October 2015, Pastor's Perspective

Real Men

by Mark Stermer

IMG_1224-2Where are the real men in the world; men who are not afraid to be who God has created them to be? There is confusion about this right now; we are in a culture that seeks to feminize men. It’s no wonder we see some men confused about whether they are male or female. What’s worse is that our society is accepting of this deception. Even the new line of clothing for men are made from women’s style. Men are deterred from boyhood, from being rough and rugged. What’s interesting is that our society entertains itself with heroes in the movies who are raw and tough, who fight like a bear and roar like a lion. Our society would rather keep real men trapped in Hollywood where they can control them. A real man cannot be controlled by politicians, culture, or the demonic forces that plague our society.

Let me clarify who real men really are: we are not real men because we look rugged, stand to urinate, or produce life in the world. We are real men because we have found our purpose: to glorify God in this world with our lives. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to march into hell and rescue as many lost souls as we can by influencing them to give their lives to Christ. A real man is a man of war on a planet doomed to judgment. We have been given a rescue mission to accomplish. We are armed with weapons of war, and we don’t understand or accept retreat or defeat. We have no fear of death and no mercy on evil. We are tender and loving, but strong and free. Our wives respect us; our children revere us; our brothers will die for us; people in need or in danger will call for us; and our enemies fear us. We are a new breed of warriors standing for the truth of God’s Word. We are the redeemed of the Lord, washed by the blood, filled with the Spirit, and favored by God. We are the Real Men of the Church of the living God, and Christ Jesus is our King.

I, Pastor Mark Stermer, as a general in my King’s army, am calling for men to burn their women’s underwear and come join an army that is bent on conquering the world for Christ. Men, rise up and be the real man God has created you to be!

About Mark: Mark Stermer served as Leadership Pastor at Healing Place Church (HPC) in Baton Rouge, LA from 1997-2004. Mark has been serving as Executive Director of The Church United for Community Development, a 501c3 nonprofit organization since 1999. He also founded and was Director of the Louisiana Pastor’s Resource Council and worked tirelessly to network pastors and government officials to influence a positive change in Louisiana. Since August 2010 Mark and his wife, Cindy, have been serving as Senior Pastors of The Church, which has multiple campuses. Every Sunday The Church sermons are broadcast on national TV speaking God’s truth into many homes. They currently have 8 children and two grandchildren.

Geaux Life, October 2015

Children’s Cup: Saving the ‘Forgotten Children’

by Lisa Tramantona

It happened in Zimbabwe, Africa in 2002.

A group of boys playing outside heard the sad and frightened cries of a small child. Running to investigate, they came across a crude outhouse and found a 3-year-old named Tinotenda struggling in a pile of human waste. His mother had thrown him there to die.

childrenscup2-2Tinotenda was a “throwaway” kid, a victim of the hopelessness and poverty so pervasive in many Third World countries. Fortunately for Tinotenda, he was pulled from the pit and taken to a nearby orphanage run by the Children’s Cup organization. Children’s Cup provides clean water, food and medical care to thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Honduras, Mexico and Swaziland.

The organization was founded by Dave and Jean Ohlerking in 1992 with the purpose of helping and healing the world’s forgotten children. Today, Children’s Cup is run by Ben and Susan Rodgers, the Ohlerkings’ daughter and son-in-law, who live in Prairieville.

Ben and Susan lived in Africa from 2001 to 2011, first in Zimbabwe and then in Swaziland, and raised their three children there. Choosing to live a life of service and sacrifice was not a hardship or a difficult decision, they say.

“God asked us to do this, and we said yes,” said Susan, the organization’s missionary coordinator. “It’s that simple. We are available and fully obedient to Him — whatever He asks, no matter where He leads. We are still in awe of how powerful our simple ‘yes’ has been in affecting so many lives around us and all around the world.”

Ben, who serves as executive director, says Children’s Cup is not only providing the basic necessities for children, but is transforming them to become leaders and “world changers.”

rodgersfamily-2“About 10 years after we saved Tinotenda,” Ben said, “I ran into him at one of our orphanages (called Carepoints). “He was almost a teenager by then — a handsome young man — and after talking for a while, I asked him what he wanted to do with his life when he grew up. He said, ‘I want to be a pastor like you — so I can help other children like me.’”

That help that Tinotenda mentions is more than food and water. Children’s Cup also helps children receive medical care, education and yes … the Word of God. Children’s Cup promotes discipleship by establishing Bible studies for children at the organization’s Carepoints. It’s here that they learn God has a plan for them and hope is able to take root in their lives.

As Ben says, “The biggest problem isn’t disease or poverty. It’s the lack of hope. And hope has a name … Jesus.” Ben makes several trips each year overseas, with teams of volunteers and missionaries committed to the cause.

“I tell them, ‘Your life will never be the same after you go on a trip with our group,’” said Ben. “When we share our stories and our experiences, they have a better understanding. There are children in this world who go through things we can’t even imagine … it’s such a blessing to be able to help them, to bring love and meaning into their lives.”

Over the years, the charity has provided more than 4 million meals to orphans, built 41 churches, and found sponsors for more than 1,125 children.* Even so, Ben and Susan’s work is never done. At every opportunity, they share their message and encourage others to consider working with Children’s Cup. They also provide education and training for those who want to become more involved.

childrenscup3-2Not everyone can serve as a missionary overseas, but there are other ways to make a difference, such as raising money for the organization or making a one-time donation.

Christmas at Carepoint is one example. Children’s Cup hosts a festive party for the children during the holidays, complete with games, dancing, a delicious meal, a special gift, and a dramatic performance of The Story of Jesus. For just a $10 donation, you can send one child to the Christmas at Carepoint event.

You can also sponsor a child (long-term) though Children’s Cup. Just a little more than a dollar a day helps provide children with food, medical care and the opportunity to receive an education.

If your group/church/family is interested, send an email to for details, or call (225) 673-4505.

“I believe what we are doing is the highest calling there is,” said Ben. “God is able to do infinitely more than we could dream of when we are simply willing to listen for his voice and say yes.”

(*Children’s Cup: A Guide to Changing the World)

Family Life, October 2015

Riches from the Outdoors of Louisiana, A Sportsman’s Paradise

by Sally Morgan

pictorial account16-2When rounding up our young children to go someplace, my late husband Kenny Morgan often announced, “Let’s move out to the games area!” A high school coach, he pronounced the same invitation, whether for a walk to our neighbor’s vacant lot to catch fly balls, or for a drive to the country to go fishing at his sister’s pond. The meaning in either case was clear to both the kids and me—we’re going OUTSIDE, and we’re going to PLAY!

“A Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana’s riches emanate from the natural, beautiful resources of its wild outdoors. Swamps, rivers, lakes, gulf waters, wooded terrain of all varieties, and bayous provide year-round opportunities for hunting, fishing, and countless other outdoor activities. Coastal wetlands and wildlife preserves make a habitat for many rare and endangered species. Louisiana is a paradise for bird watching, hiking, camping, and biking—in short, a natural playground.

Louisiana’s real riches are those experienced by a person with his or her senses piqued. And, when would you have a better chance to notice heightened senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound than when you are playing in an outdoor paradise? Those times are little gifts along the way that turn into the deeper riches of life.

 Experiencing Louisiana’s Outdoors Provides Riches for its Residents and Visitors

Families: a place in which they grow. Many vacations and short trips with our kids were centered on being in the out-of-doors. On one such trip, we left home without any fishing gear, planning just to be out in the country near my husband’s hometown of historic Jackson, Louisiana. Upon arriving for a visit, Kenny looked at the nearby pond, and thought, “Fishing!” He instructed the kids to go into a cane thicket to select, and Kenneth to cut some long poles with a favorite hatchet. Turned out this was Kenneth’s favorite part, along with rigging the old fashioned cane poles with fish hooks and 12-pound fishing line his daddy happened to have in the truck; then he was ready to go chase geese.

pictorial account17-2Our friend, and the children’s surrogate uncle, Butch Trahan soon arrived with some earthworms. Amelia attentively listened to Butch’s and Kenny’s instructions about what parts of the bank to stand on, how to bait hooks with the cool, earth-scented worms, and fish with the primitive pole. Amelia persevered, and caught a basket of clear water catfish and bass, besides the four pound ones we released, according to Kenny.

Food: a wellspring providing. I got to fry a delicious mess of fish that night.

Louisiana. Synonymous. With. Good. Food.

a calling. In the dedication to his second book on turkey hunting, Kenny wrote, “In His great scheme of things, God has in instilled us His prized qualities, among them the ‘hunter-gatherer instinct’ present in us all. This instinct has enabled us to proceed through history at an accelerated rate, to survive, to flourish…. After 35 years of teaching our young people, I can assure you that this most admirable trait is still present in our youth.” In the stillness of the outdoors, I can’t help but marvel at the gifts God placed in and around me.

Fun: an on-switch. My own memories of growing up in Baton Rouge center on playing outside: going barefoot, swinging on a rope swing, feeling the dusty dirt between my toes under the live oak, playing baseball with my brother who taught me to pitch, catch and hit. My sister and I dressed-up and saddled-up on broomstick horses to play Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Ah, the grass! Lots of St. Augustine grass; lying in the grass. Watching ants crawling past blades of it that, from the ants’ perspective, were towering stalks. Some 30 years later, recalling my experience of childhood imagination, awe, and wonder about this ant kingdom was the subject of my favorite speech I gave at Toastmasters, “Why God Made Us Kids First.”

Friends: a gathering place. A long-time visitor from another state and close friend of Kenny’s put it this way: “Now, in the elder statesman time of life, my love for hunting is mixed with a love of the companionship I knew for a close circle of friends, who also found excitement and wonder for all the many mysterious flora and fauna of the wild.”

We don’t have too far to look. It requires paying attention. We have riches in our own backyard.

To learn more about Sally’s publishing and Kenny’s works, visit Morgan’s Americana at

Sally head shot-2ABOUT SALLY: Sally Morgan is independent publisher of the 2014 coffee table book by Kenny Morgan, her late husband – America, Wild Turkeys & Mongrel Dogs: Life Lessons from a Hunting Master, Foreword by Bert Jones. Before Kenny’s death in 2011, he and Sally distributed 100 of his signed manuscript Limited Editions. For ordering and more information, visit

Sally has worked in construction management 30+ years, in industry, and teaching at LSU and Texas A&M. She holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Family Life, October 2015

Q&A with Coach Dale Brown

by Beth Townsend & Dale Brown

CoachDaleBrown-2As you look back on your career as the winningest coach in LSU basketball history, what is your fondest memory of your Hall of Fame career? What was your most difficult hurdle?  

My fondest memory was watching youngsters become men and fully understand that the best potential of me, is we. There is only one way to get anybody to do anything and that is by making the other person want to do it. Manipulation is negative and builds nothing but barriers and distrust. Persuasion builds relationships and from that comes trust and success. People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you really care.

How were you able to develop relationships with young men so that you were able to influence in a way that 70 percent of your players graduated from the university? 

85 percent of our players that attended LSU for four years graduated and 70% of all of our players have a college degree. No one in my family had a college degree; my mother only finished the 8th grade and the only source of employment for her during the depression of 1935 was to be a babysitter and clean others homes. Living in poverty growing up was a stimulant to seek something better. I also stressed to all of our players a profound statement by Martin Luther King, “Man will only be free when he reaches down in the inner depths of his own being and signs his own emancipation proclamation and education is one way to do that.” I have always felt the best path to a better future is through education. I felt the embarrassment of being on welfare growing up and was determined that I wanted to never experience that again.

One of my passions is others finding their “purpose.”  Did God create you to be a coach…create you for that purpose? How did you discover this purpose? How do you advise others to discover that one thing about which they can be passionate in their life? 

I wanted to be an FBI agent but attended a small Teachers College in North Dakota and decided to be a teacher and coach. After a taste of coaching I was determined that it would be my vocation. My advice to those pondering a career is to do what gives you the greatest joy and fulfillment and not what gives you the most money or fame.

One of the most influential books that I’ve read is the Power of Positive Thinking by the late Reverend Norman Vincent Peale. I know that you had the chance to know him personally. How did the Power of Positive Thinking influence you most profoundly?

Growing up I had an inferiority complex because my father abandoned us two days before I was born and never returned or ever supported us in any manner. Being poor and living in a tiny apartment added to the embarrassment. However, a magnificent mother and ex-coach at the high school I attended gave me the support and confidence I needed to succeed. Athletics gave me the first good self-image I had of myself and I am eternally grateful. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power Of Positive Thinking was another great stimulant for me to believe in myself and that anything is possible with hard work and the right attitude.

Since Dr. Peale was a pastor and his “self help” book was rooted in scripture, reading a blog by Richard Simmons III that you posted on your website, led me wonder if today the “self help” industry attempts to convince people that there is no room for God. In your mind what is God’s place in motivation?   

Even though I am still a work in progress God has always been my guiding light and I could not get through one day without him. My mentor of 40 years, Coach John Wooden, was a true beacon light of God.

One of your mentors was the late Coach John Wooden. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a Christian publisher’s conference a number years ago. What single characteristic about Coach Wooden meant the most to you in your personal development?

Coach Wooden was by far the most successful college basketball coach in history and was the paramount example of a servant leader. He was kind, caring, highly intelligent, vibrant, strong-willed, principled, humble and true man of God. Edgar Guest described him perfectly in his poem when he said, “I’d rather see a lesson than to hear one any day.” He did not preach; he lived the principles taught by Jesus.

You are known as a master motivator. What are the key components to being self-motived? 

The key components to being self motivated are knowing God never makes any junk, and to propel your dream forward you must have intuition, imagination, determination, perseverance, and faith. The only thing more powerful than fear is faith. It is easy to come up with a litany of excuses and that will only lead you to failure. Being a human being is so complicated that nobody can live their lives without mistakes and failures but if you do your best and never give up, you will be rewarded and your dreams will come true.

We live in a world where hostility towards each other manifests itself everywhere and seemingly all the time. Today your talks and writings go far beyond Coach Dale Brown and more to Humanitarian Dale Brown. What does God call us to do to erase these hostilities and work harmoniously?

Communities and nations will only be transformed when mankind returns to God for guidance. The world will only function properly when we show true love, respect, and tolerance to one another. Nobody makes a grater mistake than those who did nothing because they thought they could only do a little. Gandhi’s most profound statement is so very true, “We must be the change we wish to see.” All through history whenever evil and good compromised, evil always won. There can be no compromise with evil.

Family Life, October 2015

Determined to Be Great

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

Picuture“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

 I recently watched a documentary about a guy who had wanted to play baseball since childhood, but his sight had been diminishing, and by the time he was 17-years-old he was declared legally blind. However, his determination and resiliency would set him up to make history.

Shortly after becoming legally blind, he realized that he was still living, and that he could still play baseball. The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) was organized for visually impaired adults to play baseball. Beep baseball is played on a grass field with six fielders and one or two “spotters” from one team, and the pitcher, catcher, and batter from the other team. They blindfold the fielders and the catchers so that everyone can be on the same level. I would go on to learn that his (NBBA) team won the championship this year.

What is your determination today? Will you allow the setbacks in life keep you from being great?

Accomplishing greatness is not about being a celebrity or a media mogul.  Donna Douglas, aka Elly Mae Clampett from the popular TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, went on to live a low-key life in Pride, Louisiana. She was very popular in her day but decided not to take the often-traveled route to Hollywood. She said that she could have been more famous if she had taken her clothes off, but her spirituality came first.

 You hear of folks all the time wanting to be celebrities, but you never know the path they (celebrities) might have to walk to get there. Michael Jackson was one of the greatest singers of all time; he had everything, including a zoo, at his fingertips but couldn’t sleep at night. Greatness can come to anyone who desires it. However, it is the way you go about achieving greatness that will determine how great you will truly become.

Faith Life, October 2015

Live2Serve: Students Working as the Hands and Feet of Christ in Our Community

by Susan Brown

DSCN5316-2Every day, LSU student Jacob Allen Nichols stopped by a convenience store for his favorite coffee. And every day, a little boy named Tyler asked him for change. “What do you want today?” Jacob asked. One day, the answer surprised him – not a cold drink or snack. He was an Astros fan. He wanted to play baseball.

A casual game of catch came next. Tyler caught the ball. Jacob caught the vision. Setting foot in the neighborhood just north of LSU opened his eyes to poverty, the hunger for opportunity, and the need for positive relationships and role models. Live2Serve was born. He saw it as a chance to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Live2Serve is a Christian nonprofit organization ministering to some 300 kids per month in the neighborhoods between the north gates of LSU and downtown. The organization is gearing up for the Dec. 20 Christmas in the Coliseum where kids receive gifts, play games, eat jambalaya and hear the story of Jesus’ birth.

Corporate sponsors may participate by contributing $50-10,000 and family sponsors by contributing $50-500. Major donors include Parkview Baptist School, St. Luke’s Episcopal Day School and LSU. The deadline for LSU organization sponsorships is Oct. 30 and for corporations, Nov. 16. Families may enlist as sponsors through Dec. 11. The fundraiser supports all of the ministry’s work, including baseball and soccer camps.

Every week, Nichols, who serves as full-time executive director, and lifelong friends Bradley Downs and Erin Kilpatrick host soccer, games, art lessons and Bible study at the Baranco-Clark branch of the YMCA on Thomas Delpit Drive. Kilpatrick leads younger children’s Bible study and – with Claire Hilse and Erin Jewell – recruits LSU Greek life volunteers. Both Nichols and Downs have coached championship soccer teams, and place their players in YMCA leagues.

“We switched from coaching football and basketball to coaching soccer because soccer’s a perfect inner city sport,” Nichols says. “The main reason is that they can be aggressive, but they have to learn how to control that aggression.”

“I want our community center to not be a place of anger but to be strictly a place of love, nothing else,” says Nichols, a member of Christ the King Catholic Church. He describes his work as the modern-day complement to inner city pastors who desire a ministry for children and youth but struggle to balance full time work and ministry.

11252352_940094572722940_2609692668652082104_n-2That means his door – and his heart – are always open. And kids come wandering in. Far too often, it’s a grieving teen whose family member or friend has been shot. Or, a girl who has experienced rape. Or, recently, a teen with a knife wound in his hand, surrounded by members of the youth group.

“None of them had a car, none of them knew what to do, so they came to the YMCA. I gave them a proper bandage to start off with and we went to the free clinic on Florida Blvd.” Nichols remembers. “And I thought to myself, ‘If we weren’t there, those other boys wouldn’t have been there to come to his aid and just scare off the guy who did it. And if we weren’t there and they still had that kind of brotherhood, where would they go?”

At a time when organizations typically struggle to involve Gen Z in nonprofit work, Nichols has successfully tapped into the fluid nature of young volunteers. They can come alone or in groups and serve whenever they want. Anyone may volunteer and no one is pressured to do more than they like. Sororities and fraternities often bring volunteers. Some 1,300 have participated.

“And I get LSU students who come and ask all the time, ‘Hey I’m not a Christian but can I still come out and serve?’ Absolutely,” Nichols responds. “If God can use a sinner like me, then who am I to say you can’t come?” Nichols has seen volunteers renew their own commitment to God and become active in local churches because of their Live2Serve experience.

Like all ministry endeavors, working with inner city kids is a challenge, Nicholas says. But he compares it to a thunderstorm. “Everything could be going totally going 100 percent wrong and you just get, like, a tiny little ounce of just God, of just Jesus, a tiny little bit of just doing good and you want to dance in the rain,” he says. “Like a kid who’s just had trouble and does something great.” Or the night that a kid turns his life over to Christ. “That outweighs everything.”

(For more information visit:

Faith Life, October 2015

Connections Ministry: Equipping the Called

by Susan Brown

DSCN5165-2Many pastors begin their ministries like a starting quarterback: full of passion and heart, ready to drive to the finish line, determined to change the world, or at least their communities. Then reality hits. They are alone, facing overwhelming needs, short of time, training and teammates. That’s where Connections Ministry comes into play.

Founder and President Clayton Hays knows what it means to be without resources. More importantly, he knows where to find them. His mission is to connect people and churches across denominational, cultural and economic lines to reach people for Christ and help them grow into disciples who will do the same.

He learned a hard lesson early in his own ministry at a small church in Atlanta, Ga. “Honestly, I was a young pastor, I was right out of seminary, and there was a lot I didn’t know,” he says. “I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to do it, how to get it carried out. So I imagined there are pastors in Baton Rouge in that same situation.” His exploration of neighborhood churches around the Gardere community and old south Baton Rouge confirmed his theory.

“I’ve just seen how many of the churches are small, and the pastors are untrained. I think a number of the pastors are great folks, great men, who have a great heart for the Lord and great desire to do ministry. But many of them are not only untrained, they’re bi-vocational.” 

While some small, inner city churches may be trying to cope with limited finances and staff, larger churches across town – or sometimes within blocks – are sitting on a gold mine, Hays says.

“We have people sitting in the pews who have been involved with church for decades. They’re trained in some aspect of church ministry but may be underused for one reason or another.”

Churches are increasingly rising to the challenge. Dr. Bartholomew M. Riggins, a member of the Connections Ministry board and pastor of Faith Chapel on Staring Lane, is fulfilling his dream of starting a leadership training institute for pastors. Connections Ministry helped pave the way, linking Riggins with former Chapel on the Campus pastor Dennis Eenigenberg of Equipping Network, a ministry that trains Third World pastors for ministry, especially in Uganda. Together, they are developing leadership for small groups and marriage seminars.

In April, Connections Ministry helped coordinate the Baton Rouge Sports Initiative, spearheaded by M.L. Woodruff, sports outreach minister at Istrouma Baptist Church. The one-day free multi-sports clinics featured instruction in football, basketball, baseball and soccer at four sites. Thirteen local churches collected new and used athletic equipment and provided instruction.

“What we hope is this once a year outreach would become a catalyst for ongoing sports ministries led by the churches in those neighborhoods,” Hays says. “The point is not the sport, the point is to develop relationships with the kids.”

But neighborhood churches face the challenge of finding people to keep sports ministry programs going. “They might be thinking, ‘sure that’s a great idea but we don’t have the people to do that,’” Hays says. “We just have a shortage of volunteers who have the time to show up weekly. We need solid, godly people who have a heart for them.”

Hays believes that community-based, cooperative ministry will resonate with communities. He finds assurance in Psalm 46:10. “Lord, you say you are going to be exalted in the earth and that’s what we want to see happen. You’re going to make that happen.”

(For more information, visit

Faith Life, October 2015

Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures

Helping the Disabled Experience Christ Through the Outdoors

by Mark Hunter
Matthew Matherne, a board member of Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures, who is paralyzed from a drunk-driving accident before he became a Christian, was manning a display booth at the recent Gueydan Duck Festival. Photo by Mark H. Hunter
Matthew Matherne, a board member of Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures, who is paralyzed from a drunk-driving accident before he became a Christian, was manning a display booth at the recent Gueydan Duck Festival. Photo by Mark H. Hunter

Sometimes God uses something small, like a drill bit, to create something as big as the great outdoors to bless hundreds, if not thousands of people.

Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures, “was a vision given to me by God seven years ago,” said Jason Bland. But it took a lot of pain and suffering, and the loss of his right leg below the knee for God to get his attention.

Bland, who grew up near Gramercy, La., hunting, fishing, and playing high school and college football, was living for himself a decade ago, drinking hard liquor and smoking meth. He’d already ruined his first marriage and lost custody of his two children when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Lafayette. When doctors repaired his broken leg, they left a drill bit behind.

For seven months he battled anxiety, depression and worst of all – infections. When they saw the drill bit on an X-ray, his infected leg was amputated. He now gets around on a stainless-steel, articulated prosthesis.

“I knew God was working on my life – I know now he was transforming me from a big bully to a child of His with a soft heart,” Bland said. Following the amputation he met a Christian woman, now his second wife, who helped him find Christ.

In November, 2009, he was praying for guidance for a ministry to help disabled people get out into the woods when, he said, “God told me, ‘name it Trinity Outdoors. Help people and bless them.’”

They started out by taking wounded veterans and disabled children on hog and deer hunts throughout Louisiana, Texas, and a half-dozen other states at no charge.

“What we try to do is bless them through the outdoors,” Bland said. “The outdoors is our church.”

They are now expanding the ministry to include recovering alcoholics and addicts, as well as children who don’t have a father in their life. “They’re disabled but in a different way,” Bland said.

Some of the men and women they’ve served have since joined the non-denominational, non-profit ministry, and they are getting calls from outside Louisiana to start other local chapters. “We are being obedient to God and are being blessed.”

Matthew Matherne, 37, is the group’s secretary-treasurer and has been involved ever since he went on a deer hunt with the group three years ago. In April 2006, he was driving drunk when he wrecked his truck and broke his back. He is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Some of the team of Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures that was hosting a booth at the recent Gueydan Duck Festival. Back row, L. to r. Frank Miller, Lori Credeur, Gerard Credeur, Scott Miller. Front row - L. - Matthew Matherne and ministry founder Jason Bland. Photo by Mark H. Hunter
Some of the team of Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures that was hosting a booth at the recent Gueydan Duck Festival. Back row, L. to r. Frank Miller, Lori Credeur, Gerard Credeur, Scott Miller. Front row – L. – Matthew Matherne and ministry founder Jason Bland. Photo by Mark H. Hunter

“I have only myself to blame and plan on using the rest of my time here on earth to right my wrongs and do everything I can for the Lord,” Matherne said. Married with three children, Matherne often sits with the kids in the blind.

“It is a life changing experience,” Matherne said. “In 2014, we met girl and her parents at a show at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and is in a wheelchair. She had always wanted to go hunting but never had the opportunity or the means because of limited use of her arms.”

“We have equipment to hold the gun and when we showed her how it worked her eyes lit up,” he said. “Last year at a Texas hunt – when she shot her deer – everybody in the stand was crying and hugging.”

“It changes not only how you see your life but how you see other people,” Matherne said. “Something as simple as harvesting a deer or a hog or some ducks or catching some fish – to see the joy on their faces and see how much it means to them changes you.”

Gerard Credeur, 39, is the group’s cook. He is disabled from a 2007 oil rig accident that broke his back in four places. The injury still affects his walk. Like Bland, he’d been living a wild life of partying, drugs and booze before Christ transformed him.

“Matt (Matherne) came to my house, introduced me to Jason, and I got involved and it’s now two years of being sober,” Credeur said. “If you keep your faith in the Lord, the Lord will bless you many times.”


You can support Trinity Outdoors at its upcoming fundraiser:


March 12, 2016

Lamar Dixon Expo Center

The event will also feature:




For more information visit Trinity’s website: