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