Friday, January 31, 2014

Skywatch Friday

One of my favorite activities is participating in Skywatch Friday.  I've been doing it for several years now.  One reason that I like this meme is that it makes me look up and take the time to enjoy the artwork that is the heavens.  Sunrise and sunset usually provide the most spectacular display of color and light.
The Bible says that Christ has prepared a place for each of us who have accepted Him as our personal Lord and Savior.  When I look at what He prepares and shares with us at sunrise and sunset, I cannot imagine what He has in store for us when His people step into eternity and claim that place that He has set aside especially for each of His followers.
One day each of us will step through the door of death and into eternity.  We will leave this world behind.  We will take nothing from this life with us.  We will spend eternity in one of two places.  If we rely on ourselves, our own works, our own accomplishments, and our own pride, then we will spend an eternity separated from God in a place of eternal torment that the Bible describes as hell.  If we have truly trusted Christ as our Savior, we will spend eternity in a place that Christ Himself has prepared for us.  It is a place of no more tears, no more sickness, no more death.  When I look at my options, all I can say is "Give me Jesus."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Preparing for Each Day

How do you start your mornings?  Do you shower, dress, grab a little breakfast, and head out the door?  Do you prepare breakfast, then get cleaned up for the day?  Do you stop at a local bakery or coffee shop for your first meal of the day?  In the midst of the rush, do you take a few minutes to consider your mission for that day.  Last week my sister-in-law lost her mother.  The memorial service was Monday.  Sometime after the service, one of the grand daughters found this taped to the mirror in the bathroom of her grandmother's home.  Maybe if all of us started our day with this reminder the world would be a better place.  It was certainly a better place while Mary Catherine was in it.

"Since life is preparation for eternity, I want to use my time on earth fulfilling God's five purposes for me.  I was planned for God's pleasure,"  that's worship, "so I will use this day to get to know and love God better.  I was formed for God's family." that's fellowship, "so I will use this day to show love to other believers.  I was created to become like Christ, "that's discipleship,"so I will use this day to serve God by serving others.  I was made for a mission." that's evangelism." so I will use this day to share the Good News."
How do you plan to use your day?  Just asking?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seasons of Life

I captured this image last fall, about a mile from our home.  Looking through my files today it reminded me of the fact that most of us will be required to pass through all of the seasons on this journey that we call life.  We "Spring" into this world naked and helpless.  We rely on our parents for everything that sustains our life, food, shelter, clothing, love, protection, education, discipline, etc.
At some point we enter into what most of us believe will be an Endless Summer of life.  We're ten feet tall and bullet proof.  We're going to live forever and we're never going to get old.  As the saying goes, "We have the world by the tail with a downhill pull."  We are young, energetic, enthusiastic, and in the prime of our lives.
The autumn of our lives seems to slip up on us almost without warning.  We are at the peak of our earning potential.  We are looking forward to retirement.  One thing we notice is that we are physically unable to do some of the things that we could do during that Endless Summer.  I took a test on the internet the other day to measure one's mental age.  The results indicated that I was 19!  Really?  What nineteen year old has a pacemaker and two bad knees.  It just proves that at some point in the aging process our bodies are no longer able to execute what our brains can dream up!
As winter sets in, we realize that age is, in fact, taking it's toll on our bodies and minds.  We are losing our friends to eternity and we have more doctors on our speed dial than friends.  Looking back, we will ask ourselves, "Did I live my life well?  Did I make a difference?"
In the last five days I have attended two memorial services.  A friend of ours lost her father-in-law, and our sister-in-law lost her mother.  Both of those individuals that are gone were members of what Tom Brokaw declared to be "The Greatest Generation".  They were children of the depression.  They saved this world from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, and sacrificed the Endless Summer of their lives to accomplish that task.  They came home from WWII and built highways, schools, raised families, and made this the greatest nation on earth.  Now, they are leaving us at an alarming rate.  We will never see their kind again...ever!  While the two individuals that passed away last week never met each other, they had one thing in common.  They had an unshakable faith in their Lord and Savior.  They made a daily effort to live a life that was pleasing to the God of all creation.  As a result, both were loving, kind, generous, and always thinking of others.  They knew the difference between right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and evil and the consequences of each choice.  Both of the departed made a difference in the lives of their families all the way down to their grandchildren and great grandchildren.  They both lived their lives well.  Their families and friends are going to miss these who have passed, but those who are left behind will carry the influence of these dear people as long as they live.
As I said, most of us will be required to pass through all of the seasons of life before stepping out into eternity.  Eventually, we will lose the battle with age, disease, or some other malady that will take this mortal life from us.  However we can have the same victory over death that these two dear souls enjoy.  There is Victory in Jesus.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

At Christmas time my wife is all about wreaths, ribbons and bows.  This is just one example of her work.  She makes them for all seasons.

  Writing or Letter
I've always been fascinated with graphics and art.  Last year we hosted a prom dinner for our oldest grand daughter and 16 of her friends.  I did the name cards and the menus.  My wife did all of the table decorations.  Hey, there's another ribbon!

If you see a new Camaro and happen to "notice" a ZL1 badge on the tail, be advised this is one nasty street machine.  It's also over $50,000.

Last fall, at a local high school football game, I caught this image of the band director.

  On the Water
You have to be on the water at sunrise to capture this image of the marina at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake, just outside of Branson, MO.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Some days the sunset reminds me that God can take the most mundane landscape and turn it into a glorious event if only for a few minutes.  However, He can take the most undeserving of us and turn us into eternal saints through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Many people don't believe that there is a God.  Others believe that, if there is a God, they don't really need His assistance because they have done nothing to deserve judgement.  There are those who have given up.  They believe in God, but they believe that their life is such a mess that God wants nothing to do with them.  The truth is, God has a desire to have a relationship with each and everyone of us.  He created us.  We are precious in His sight.  The apostle Paul counted himself among the chief of sinners, yet he wrote over half of the New Testament.  Prior to his conversion, Paul spent his time persecuting the church.  He was instrumental in putting many Christians to death, yet God had a glorious plan for Paul's life.  Paul saw the truth in the resurrected Christ and repented.  He turned his life over to the Savior and Christ turned Paul's life into a testimony of righteousness.  If God wanted a relationship with Paul, after all that Paul had done wrong, He certainly wants a relationship with you and I.  Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus.  Christ saved him and put him on the Glory Road.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Life in the Paint (Girls Jr. High Basketball)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ruby Tuesday Too

You can't really see our middle grand daughter in this image since she is on the back row, right.  But we went to the Jr. High basketball game to watch her cheer and perform with the dance team at halftime.  The Ruby Tuesday photo opportunity was a bonus.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I have a collection of baseball caps that probably numbers over 100.  I gave away nearly that many several years ago, but the collection continues to grow.  There is a sub-collection of OU hats within the larger collection.  Currently there are twenty-two OU hats and ten of them commemorate national championships in various sports and bowl victories in football. Yes, I AM a fan...and an alumni.  BOOMER!

This school bell belonged to an amazing woman, my great aunt, Elva Ross Duvall.  She taught school in Oklahoma for over thirty years.  She finished her career at what is now Oklahoma State University.  Her career began in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1903.  That's right!  She was teaching school in Oklahoma four years before it became a state.  This is her school bell.  There are a lot of teachers in our family and our oldest grand daughter has decided that she would like to pursue teaching when she begins college next fall.  I should probably do an article devoted to my great aunt.  She was something special.

  Something I'm Comfortable With
I am comfortable in my compact pick-up truck.  I've been driving small pick-ups since 1984.  I am just not comfortable trying to manage a full size truck.  My latest truck is a 2011 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X.  It does everything I need.  It can go in the snow.  It can haul dirt and other items for landscape projects around the house, and it can tow my bass boat to the lake.  What else could a guy ask for?  This is, by far, the best truck I have ever owned and I have NO intention of trading it off.

  Who is There?
Our oldest grand daughter is at the threshold of adulthood.  She is a senior in high school this year and graduation day will come sooner than any of us want.  She has been and continues to be a special joy to her grandmother and I.  I'm sure that there will be a special graduation post this spring.

  A Door
About three miles from our home sits the Mildred B. Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista Arkansas.  The doors are not the only beautiful thing about this structure. The entire building is an architectural masterpiece. It was designed by E. Fay Jones, an Arkansas native and student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Jones designed several of these chapels, two in Arkansas and one in Mississippi.  This one uses steel to form the gothic arches.  His most famous chapel, Thorncrown, is about 40 miles from this location, in Eureka Springs.  If  you're in the area, these are must see facilities.  They are open to the public and available for weddings.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Midnight Cry

Looking through the trees from our back deck, the full moon was a beautiful sight.  Much more beautiful than I was able to capture here.  The truth is, it was most attractive earlier in the evening when it was a brilliant orange and much lower in the sky.  I didn't have my camera at that time so I missed the photo opportunity.  My loss.  I may try again in the next couple of evenings to get better images.  This image is better suited for a Halloween evening, don't  you think.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ruby Tuesday Too

Most of us Oklahoma Sooner fans and alumni are still reveling in the recent Sugar Bowl victory over favored Alabama.  My little Christmas OU bear is no exception.  He's back in his box now and stored away for another year.  While college football season is over for this year, expectations for the coming year always run high among Sooner fans.  This year the Sooners finished 6th in the final rankings with a 11-2 record.  With the winning tradition that the Sooners have built over the past six decades, finishing outside of the top five can be a bit of a disappointment and finishing outside of the top ten is just unacceptable.  However, OU suffered through multiple injuries to numerous players, including most of the offensive line and backfield.  Here's hoping that 2014 will be another great season and another high ranking is in their future.
BOOMER Sooner!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

UnSkywatch Friday

The past couple of weeks the sky has either been crystal clear or a dull grey.  In either case, there hasn't been much to photograph and I didn't really want to pull images from the archives and post them.  So, I pointed the camera and the world around me in one of my favorite places.  A couple of miles from our house is one of seven small lakes in the area.  I like going to the spillway, by the dam, from time to time just to watch the water wind through the rocks.  Of course, when we get cold weather and snow, there is the opportunity for some really nice images.  Since Christmas, the weather has been extremely cold and we have gotten some snow.  Here are the results...Ice water!

Hopefully the sky will provide better opportunities for photos this coming week.  Until then, happy skywatching all.

As I begin this new year I have given some thought to resolutions.  Most of us at least think about making some sort of change in our lives each year.  We want to lose weight, get in better physical shape, change our wardrobe, make new friends, etc.  We look at our lives, then we look at the world around us and we decide what adjustments we need to make in order to live better in this world.  For the Christan that has become our greatest problem.  We have adjusted to this world.  The truth is our home is a place prepared for us by our Savior and one day He will come again to take us home.  Until then, we are to be salt and light in this world.  It is our responsibility to live a life that honors and glorifies our Creator and not simply to adjust to the world around us.  So, with that said, "I don't want to get adjusted,"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ruby Tuesday Too

It is my understanding that the Farmer's Almanac predicted that the winter of 2013-14 would be long, hard, and cold.  So far, the winter in Northwest Arkansas has been exactly that.  We have had ice, snow, and sleet.  We've had more cold weather since December 1, than I can remember in the last five years, and this week will be the coldest yet.  Sunday we got 2"-4" of snow and the temperatures plummeted into single digits, with wind chills well below zero.  The result was that my photography was limited to pointing the camera out the window at the bird feeders on our deck.  At one point, I counted 15 cardinals on two feeders and in the surrounding trees.

Standing Room Only, Reservations Suggested

Friday, January 3, 2014

BOOMER Sooner...Sugar!

Last night my alma mater, the Oklahoma Sooners, were seventeen point underdogs in the All State Sugar Bowl.  They were facing the Alabama Crimson Tide that many people thought was still the best team in college football.  The Sooners have been a little inconsistent this year, losing to Texas and Baylor, but still sporting a 10-2 record.  The Crimson Tide were coming off of a last second loss to Auburn that crushed their hopes of winning their third straight national championship trophy.  The Sooners have suffered through multiple injuries to their offensive line and defensive backfield.  I love my Sooners, but I was not very hopeful for a win.  It didn't help when Bama took the opening kick-off and marched down the field for the first score of the game.  But the Sooners came back, tied the game and then proceeded to outscore the Tide the rest of the evening.  It was a great night to be a Sooner.  BOOMER Sooner!

Now, if the Oklahoma State Cowboys can beat the Missouri Tigers tonight in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, it will be a marvelous start to 2014 for the great state of Oklahoma.  RIDE 'Em Cowboys!