Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friday Thoughts & Sky Photos

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 December Sunrise

We begin a new year.  Each new year typically comes with the hope of better days.  For our country, the past couple of years have been trying, regardless of your political leanings, your faith, or your economic situation.  I pray that 2010 brings joy, peace and hope into your life.
2009 was a busy year in our home and it ended when Dad lost his battle with cancer on December 16th.  However, in the midst of the storm we were able to experience God's abundant grace and endless mercy.  Our Lord surrounded us with friends and clergy to minister to our needs, both physically and spiritually.  There were those who prepared us several meals as we kept our vigil at Dad's side the last few days in hospice.  There were those who prayed with us and for us.  There were those who visited and offered comforting words.  God provided us with perhaps the best hospice facility in the central United Sates to care for him.  It allowed us to focus on loving him and ushering him into his eternal rest.  At the end of it all, we experienced  God's Amazing Grace and Dad's chains are gone.  They are gone because Dad experienced God's Amazing Grace as a young man.  He invited Christ into his life and was saved.  There is no other way.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

The Grandcrew

In June I bought my daughter a Nikon D60.  As you can see, she's been busy photographing the Grandcrew.  I think she has a gift for this hobby.  So, for Christmas, I got her a 55-200mm lens and her husband got her a new flash unit.  Stay tuned for more photos.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Dad's Railroad Watch

The railroad watch belonged to my father.  My wife purchased the train ornament for Dad a few days prior to his passing on the 16th of December.  We placed them on the family wreath during the funeral service.  I know this isn't the most cheerful Ruby Tuesday during the holiday season, but I felt the need to post it anyway.  For more information scroll down to "A Life Well Lived". 

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Life Well Lived

April 11, 1920 - December 16, 2009

The Lord came and took my father home. The following will be read by myself at his funeral.

We come to this place to celebrate a life well lived. Depending on your relationship with Dad, we celebrate the life of John, J.E., Johnny, Uncle John, Papa, Yogi, or Papa Yogi. He would answer to any of these names. One might ask, "What does the phrase, A Well Lived Life" mean? Upon examination of the scriptures we can find many characteristics of the well lived life.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men."Colossians 3:23
God teaches us that everything we do in life should be done in such a manner as to honor the Lord. We should take pride in our work because our work should bring glory to God. There is value in work and there is great value in work done well. I builds a good reputation and allows you to sleep well at night. My father was great worker. Dad had a gift for understanding mechanical objects. If it had a moving part, Dad could fix it. It didn't matter if it was your lawnmower or your automobile. It didn't matter if it was your hair dryer or your clothes dryer. If you were a neighbor of my Dad, you were among the blessed. If it was broken, give it to John, he can fix anything. Dad loved to fix things for others. He loved the challenge of figuring out what was wrong, and how to fix the problem. He love saving himself and others time and money by fixing things that didn't work anymore. It seems that lawnmowers were his passion. People would give him broken ones and he used them for spare parts. I can remember that it seemed like every shrub in our yard had a broken down lawnmower parked under it. It was kind of like a mechanical Easter egg hunt to go and see what was hidden under the landscape.
Dad loved the railroad and worked for the same company for forty-two years. It was his first love until he met the love of his life, my mother.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25
In 1941 in Henryetta, Oklahoma, Dad met the love of his life. They were married on November 14, 1942 and spent sixty glorious years together, until Mom wen home to the Lord on June 4, 2003. No man ever loved his bride and gave himself up for her like Dad. In 1999 Alzheimer's had taken it's toll and Mom entered a nursing home. For three and one half years Dad went to the nursing home every day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. He would arrive by 9:00 a.m. and leave around 9:00 p.m. The staff was amazed. They had never seen any husband show such love and devotion to his bride. Dad had spent his life providing for his family and he wasn't about to let something like Alzheimer's keep him from loving and caring for his wife. For over sixty years their relationship was the perfect example of what a marriage is supposed to look like.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Dad was saved after he married Mom. At the age of three, I was a witness to his baptism. I thought the pastor was trying to drown Dad. None the less, the example had been set. Confess your sins before men, invite Jesus Christ into your heart, and follow our Lord in baptism. At the age of nine, I was saved... and I didn't drown. And while his work did not allow him to be the servant in the church that some are, Dad gave his time whenever possible. And just like Dad's neighbors, the pastor soon found out that Dad could fix anything and was more than willing to do so.

" Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
I don't know of any child who hasn't been upset with the discipline that their parents have administered at some point in time. The truth is, we were mostly upset that we got caught. The discipline that came from Dad was swift, fair and never without warning. The motivation was never anger, rather it was love. Just like my Heavenly Father, Dad loved me and everything that he did, he did with the motivation of training a boy how to be a man some day. A man who loves his Lord, loves his wife, loves his children, and loves his work. If I live to be half the man that my father was, I will have lived to be twice the man that most others are, and that will be "A Life Well Lived."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pardon the Interuption

I have not posted in a while and I don't know when I'll be back. Sunday, we transported my father to Hospice. The battle with cancer is almost over and our journey is coming to a close. My bride and I have been at his side and will continue our vigil until the Lord comes to take him home.

"Yea, though I walk throught the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday Thoughts

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Winter Sunrise in the Ozarks

I captured these images on the way to work a couple of weeks ago. I was on my way to the office around 7:00 a.m. It is mostly a rural drive. The sun was up, but the clouds provided the opportunity to capture a couple of photos. These were taken with my Canon S5is point and shoot camera. It's a good all around camera when you don't want to drag out the DSLR. It has plenty of zoom, although it gets pretty fussy and fuzzy when you use maximum zoom in low light conditions.
Christmas is just around the corner. I trust everyone is ready. I still have to buy something for my bride. Any suggestions? The last three years have been jewelry, so I think I've worn that option out. Oh well, I'll come up with something.
Today's inspirational song continues the Christmas theme. Nothing says Christmas like this song. When I think of Christmas and the birth of my Savior, one song comes to mind. When I think of the promise of God fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ, only one song comes to mind. When I think about the promise of eternal life in a place that God has prepared just for me, one song comes to mind. All I can say is, "Hallelujah. Here is a traditional and contemporary arrangement of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

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"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

This is another photo taken at a rural Catholic church in Indiana. We were on our way home from the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, KY when my bride spotted this church in the distance. She suggested that we explore it a little further. So I exited the main highway and we drove over the visit. Like many small, rural churches, it is beautiful and the stained glass is exquisite. There is a testimony in every window. This particular window celebrates the birth of Christ.
I know that I usually save my inspirational song for Friday Thoughts, but this is the Christmas season and there are just too many choices to limit the music to Friday. Here is a song that I have posted in the past. It is a Southern Gospel song, and if you listen to the words, you will discover that it is a Christmas song celebrating the birth of our savior. Signature Sound Quartet sings "Glory to God in the Highest". Enjoy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday Thoughts

Longing for these evenings again.

Baby, it's cold outside. It's supposed to get down to 20 degrees tonight and into the teens tomorrow night. Brrrrr!!!! Autumn just didn't last long enough.

For the next few weeks, my inspirational song will be a Christmas song. The past two weeks I have featured David Phelps. This week I am featuring Kathy Matea. The very first time I heard "Mary Did You Know", it was on a Kathy Matea album. I fell in love with this song from the very beginning and I think Kathy's version is still my favorite. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

A stained glass window that I photographed in a small church in rural Indiana.
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"Let the little children come to Me. Don't stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:14

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday Thoughts...Tis The Season

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The Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly called "Black Friday", is the official start of the Christmas season in this country. The outlet malls in Branson, MO will actually open at midnight. Most retail stores will offer specials beginning at 3, 4, 5, or 6:00 a.m. I'll still be in bed, thank you very much. Well, I may be having a cup of coffee, but I will not be among the mall warriors. We only have one or two gifts left to purchase and they will probably not be a part of any special sale.
Last week-end I put up the Christmas lights around the yard. You have to do that when you have good weather, but we don't turn them on until Friday night after Thanksgiving. That's the rule.
The other tradition in our family that marks the beginning of the Christmas season is that I install Christmas music in the car and the home sound systems. Again, no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. You will be seeing and hearing some Christmas selections here in the coming weeks. I will begin with what is possibly the best arrangement of "O Holy Night" that I have ever heard. David Phelps is in possession of an incredible vocal instrument, this is proof of his divine gift. So, go get your earbuds or headphones, turn up the volume just a bit and prepare to be stunned. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Following is the 1863 Lincoln Presidential Proclamation - celebrated shortly after Lincoln committed his life to Christ and celebrated while America was still in the midst of its Civil War. It was this proclamation which eventually led to the establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

A. Lincoln

Forgive us for our constant failure to acknowledge You as the Creator of this universe, the Creator and sustainer of life, the Source of every blessing. Lord, may we be reminded that You are the only source of true love, joy, and happiness. Only a personal relationship with you can ensure that our life has meaning and purpose. May we be reminded that even in times of trial, You are the true source of our strength, courage, and perseverance. Our purpose is to honor and glorify Your name and to give testimony to Your presence in our lives, even when our days are difficult and our burdens are heavy.
Again, we live in a time of unrest and we have deployed brave young men and women to foreign soils. We would ask for their safe return. We would ask for comfort for their families. And for those who do not return, we would ask that your mercy, grace, and love
protect those families that are left with the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one.
Thank you Father, for the the gift of eternal life though faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your Word to guide and direct our lives. Direct us to live in peace. Direct us to live in Your perfect will. Direct us to desire a closer walk with You now, in order that we might prepare to walk with You throughout eternity. Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Thoughts

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Autumn is in full swing and winter in just around the corner. The leaves have turned and now have fallen, leaving most trees bare. Skies are overcast, and there is a definite chill in the air. So, I thought I'd post a sky from a brighter day earlier this year.
Our Christmas shopping is in full swing and mostly online. I have bought our daughter's gift and my bride has two of the grand daughters covered, and I now have my marching orders to get a laptop for the oldest grand daughter, but that's a whole other post. No rush, no crowds, life is far. I don't know if my bride and I will be getting each other any thing. Honestly, there is nothing that we really need. We have been truly blessed, and for that, we are very thankful.

And neither of us colors our hair!

Hmm...since this will be posted Friday, Nov. 20 I will celebrating 63 years of life on this planet! Yep, it's birthday time again. Time flies when you're having fun. It travels faster as you grow older. Trust me. Still, life has been very good. I have nothing to complain about and more blessings than I can count. I think my bride and I will celebrate with dinner at a local restaurant. If I could, I'd do a movie marathon with the grandcrew on Saturday. "Disney's Christmas Carol", "Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs", and "Where the Wild Things Are" are all playing at the same multi-screen theatre. That would make for a full, and expensive, afternoon and evening.
So, what do I do for an inspirational song this week? I know, I know, don't play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Typically, that is the rule at our house. The Friday after Thanksgiving I change the CD's in the car to Christmas music and leave them there until New Years Day. However, it's my birthday party and I can play whatever I want. So there! I am blessed, and there is much joy in my life right now. For that I am ever grateful to the source of that joy, God Almighty. A Christmas song came to mind, "Joy,Joy" the title cut from David Phelps' first Christmas album. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

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One of these days, I'm gonna own a Zcar again. I had a bright red '71 240Z when I was much younger. It was probably the most fun I ever had driving a car.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking at the Sky Friday

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Uncloudy Day

Just a clear October day in Arkansas, about three blocks from my office.
And now, our inspirational song for the week, you guessed it...Uncloudy Day. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Give Peace A Chance

Peace is not a new concept. In fact, it is biblical. However, peace cannot dwell in a troubled soul. It cannot dwell in a heart that is at odds with God. As honorable and noble as our efforts might be to bring about peace in this world, it will not happen without our Creator.

May the God of all creation bring peace to your heart and soul. May He give you the gift of eternal life and may you share that joy and peace with the world around you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

"First Flight" by Susan Morrison
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

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Again, I have met the letter of the law by colorizing this photo for Ruby Tuesday. It's red, and that meets Mary's requirement. The real reason for this post is to introduce you to perhaps my all time favorite building in my home town, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tulsa Union Depot! Even though I haven't lived in Tulsa in a quarter of a century, it's where I grew up, and it will ALWAYS be my hometown.

Like the Fairgrounds Pavilion that I showed you last week, the Tulsa Union Depot was constructed in 1931. The monochromatic stone and precise ornament speak to the machines that it served, the mighty steam engines of the Frisco Railroad. It is a powerful looking building, again paying homage to the power to the trains and to the railroad industry of the day.

My father worked for the Frisco Railroad from 1938 -1983, only taking time out from 1943-1945 for WWII. I have spent many an hour in this building when I was a child. I probably took my last train ride out of this station around 1964. In 1967 passenger service was discontinued and the building was closed.

In 1983 the Williams Companies purchased the building and did a remarkable restoration of the structure.Click on any photo to enlarge and truly enjoy the details. While they are Art Deco in nature, they are inspired by Indian tribal art.

These train stations were the equivalent of today's regional airports. This station had two passenger concourses that led down to the tracks where one would board the train and begin their adventure to anywhere in the U.S.

Since my father worked for the railroad, I traveled free of charge. On an overnight trip, I even got a bedroom. That was waaaay cool! We would leave Tulsa at 9:00 p.m. and pull into St. Louis around 7:00 a.m. the next day. It was a wonderful way to travel. It's been a couple of decades since I visited this building and even longer since I have been inside. It was closed this day, so I'll have to visit again. As I walked around the building, with camera in hand, I was stunned at the beauty of the details and ornament. They don't build 'em like they used to, and they certainly don't build 'em like this anymore.

Today the Tulsa Union Depot is the home of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Somehow, I suppose I was hoping it would be a railroad museum, complete with vintage Frisco passenger trains. Still, I am thrilled that a building of my childhood is standing proud in my hometown and serving a noble purpose. I do love this building.

A black and white photo just seemed an appropriate way to end this post. Enjoy your day.