Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry uses ministry to reach others battling addiction

After a very public fall from grace, a Major League Baseball legend, has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel and sharing a message of redemption. Darryl Strawberry became one of the biggest stars in baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, until his career was derailed by drugs.

Drafted by the New York Mets, Strawberry was the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year. With a powerful swing, he hit 26 home runs and propelled himself into the national spotlight.

“That lifestyle is not real. It’s so many trap holds for you,” Strawberry said. “So many things that are out there. You say as a young player, ‘Well, I’ll never get into it.’ Well, if you don’t have any discipline (and) you don’t have any integrity and character, you will get into it.”

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WATCH: Briarwood Nature Preserve, a natural wonder

Briarwood Nature Preserve, located near Saline, Louisiana, is the birthplace and home of Caroline Dormon, a world renowned naturalist, author, artist and the first woman hired by the United States Forest Service. Click the video below for a tour of the wildflowers and serene landscape.

Astronaut carries friends’ wedding rings to Space

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet tweeted this photo of his friends’ wedding rings, which will be returned to Earth in May. (Photo source: Thomas Pesquet/ European Space Agency)

This Summer a special couple will receive a wedding gift that’s truly out of this world.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who has been aboard the International Space Station since November, posted photo to social media of two wedding rings floating in micro gravity.

The flight engineer from France tweeted that he carried in his personal items the wedding bands of two friends tying the knot this Summer. Continue reading

My Instagram Top 10: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

My Instagram account features the people and places that capture my attention.

I’ve curated some of my favorites into a series of posts I’m calling ‘My Instagram Top 10.’

Click below to see a photo collection featuring aircraft, automobiles, and trains.

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WATCH: Juding the Official Texas Gumbo Cook-off

For the last few years, I’ve had the great privilege to be invited to judge the Official Texas Gumbo Cook-off. As a native of south Louisiana, it’s always a real treat to sample some familiar cuisine, take-in live music from an authentic Cajun band, and spend time telling stories with great people.

Click the video below to check out what goes into the competition!

Police: Rocket debris washes ashore on Texas beach

Debris found on a Brazoria County beach is reportedly from a rocket launched from South America. (Source: Freeport Police Department)

Debris that washed ashore along the south Texas coast has been identified as part of a rocket, according to law enforcement.

A police officer made the discovery last week while investigating a report of possible airplane or boat debris being found at a Brazoria County beach.

The large rectangular object is believed to be debris from a rocket launched from South America last month. Freeport Police Department notified the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. State Department, after making the mysterious find.

“It clearly did not burn up on reentry, landed in the ocean, and floated all the way here to Freeport,” the department posted on Facebook. “It is not dangerous, except for the smell of dying barnacles that called it home for the past two weeks.” Continue reading

Sewing Hope: The extraordinary woman called the ‘Mother Theresa of Africa’

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Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe shared how she took on the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. (Photo source: Leah Jackson/ NSU Information Services)

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to spend time with an extraordinary woman who has changed the lives of thousands of young girls, who otherwise would remain on the fringes of society.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe is gaining worldwide attention for her humanitarian work to rescue children from a notorious rebel army in Africa. She’s helping mend those broken lives by teaching girls to sew hope with a needle and thread.

I moderated a lecture with Sister Rosemary, then interviewed the notable nun for my Power of Prayer series on KLTV.
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Soccer ball recovered from Shuttle Challenger wreckage reaches space three decades later

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A soccer ball that survived the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986 is now aboard the International Space Station. (Source: Shane Kimbrough/ NASA)

A soccer ball that was to be carried to space by the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger has finally reached its destination, 31 years later. Prior to the January 28, 1986 launch, the ball was presented to NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka by soccer players, including his daughter, from Clear Lake High School.

Onizuka was one of the seven astronauts killed when the shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The ball was recovered among the wreckage and returned to the school, where it has been on display for the past three decades, according to NASA.

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WATCH: My Vine rewind

As mobile video app Vine prepares for its planned phase-out in January, I’m reflecting on some of my favorite moments. Vine announced this Fall that the service would disable new uploads, but preserve existing videos indefinitely.

I was an early adopter of Vine, downloading the app when it launched in January 2013, however, my first six-second post came two months later. My 249 Vines over nearly four years racked up 269,000 loops (views) and hopefully a few laughs along the way. Some were serious, others were painfully cheesy. People, places, and funny faces provided inspiration for these short creations.

Click the video below to watch my Vines, starting with the most recent.

WATCH: My family’s Christmas ornament tradition

Each Christmas until I turned 21, my Godmother gave me a keepsake ornament. I’ve amassed quite the collection of Christmas figures, cartoon characters, and even a Magi lantern. Now, I’ve shared this same ornament tradition with both of my own Godsons. I hope one day they’ll appreciate it as much as I have. Click this video to check out all of these special memories on my tree!

Does your family have any cool Holiday traditions? Post them in the comments below!

WATCH: Riding atop a fire engine in Longview’s Christmas Parade

One of my favorite community events in all of East Texas is the annual Longview Christmas Parade. I’m always astonished by the number of people lining the streets, no matter the weather. Businesses and community groups really put on a show to get people in the Christmas spirit. Each year, the KLTV 7 crew is fortunate enough to ride with the city’s finest, perched atop a Longview fire engine.

Click the video below to check out all the fun!

Discovering history beyond the books

History isn’t as bland of a subject as it’s sometimes portrayed. Many people probably think of a stack of dusty books taking up space in a classroom or library, but I envision a vibrant picture of stories preserved by people, places, and culture.

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A chance to chat with the next generation of journalists

a-chance-to-chat-with-the-next-generation-of-journalistsLearning is a lifelong adventure for any committed journalist, a journey shaped by academic studies, real world application, and experiences shared by those working in the field. There’s always an opportunity to grow for those open to it. Looking back on my college years, I was fortunate to have been exposed to constant advice from professors and professionals, even if I didn’t recognize its true value at the time. I vividly remember listening to presentations by network news producers, corporate news directors, Presidential campaign media advisors, pollsters, news anchors, reporters, photographers, and journalism academics. Today, I apply their principles and pointers on a daily basis.

Being asked to speak to a class of journalism students at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, is somewhat of an intimidating experience. You hope to leave behind at least one valuable piece of advice or thought-provoking concept to consider. Typically that process is made easier by the professor proposing a topic or focus for my conversation. Continue reading

WATCH: Kayaking the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in southern Missouri

Click the video below to explore the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the first national park to protect a river system, is an exciting adventure. The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers provide stunning backdrops for floating, fishing, kayaking, and cave exploring.

Hidden among the pines, The Blue Hole is preserved as a Texas treasure

The Blue Hole, a privately owned swimming hole in the Angelina National Forest, is located in a former quarry in rural Jasper County.

Nestled in the Angelina National Forest in Deep East Texas, 36 miles southeast of Lufkin, is one of the hidden jewels of Texas. The Blue Hole, as it’s known, is a brilliant blue-green-colored lake surrounded by the craggy white sandstone cliffs of a former rock quarry.

First opened in the late 1800s, rock was removed from the quarry and transported by the Rockland, Jasper & Northeastern Railway Company for use in the Sabine Pass and Galveston jetties extensions, according to an article published by The History Center in Diboll.

Once known as Kyle’s Quarry, the 12 acres were flooded in the 1920s and has been a popular spring-fed swimming hole for decades, the article stated. A 1918 University of Texas publication noted the distinct coloring of the water is from the sandstone, containing quartz and chert, as well as layers of clay.

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