Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Inspiration Thursday - Abundant Life

Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people?  If Christ said, "I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly", then why to Christians seem to suffer the same difficulties in this life as non-Christians?  Why do some bad people seem to catch all the breaks?  These are not easy questions to answer, but there are some clues to why Christians must often journey through some very difficult times in their lives.
First of all, we live in a society that has very little use for the Christian life or its Biblical world view.  Our world is not all that different from the world that Christ walked in.  We should not expect better treatment than our Savior.  Christ was physically abused, verbally abused, bullied, denied by one who loved Him, betrayed by one who served Him, rejected by one who was crucified beside Him, and ultimately killed for his world view.  Why should we feel entitled to better treatment from this world than the King of kings?  Still there are circumstances in this life that we may be required to face that we just don't understand?
The Bible tells us, "...He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends the rain on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45).  Tornadoes destroy the homes of Christians and non-Christians.  Crimes are committed against Christians and non-Christians.  Deadly diseases afflict Christians and non-Christians.  Christians live in this world and as long as we live here we are subject to the same difficulties in life as everyone else.  Why?
There are many reasons, but one is that God is preparing you for a special ministry.  Think about it.  Most successful support groups are made up of people who have experienced the issue.  WeightWatchers is filled with people who have successfully overcome eating and weight issues.  Alcoholics Anonymous is made up of people who are waging war on alcoholism.  We are best prepared to mentor someone through a difficult situation when we have been through that situation ourselves.  It is not an absolute requirement, but there is credibility, sympathy, and understanding that only those who have walked through the valley of despair can understand.
Our muscles grow, strengthen, and mature when they are stressed and exercised, not when we are stretched out on the couch watching television.  Likewise, our faith and trust in God grows stronger and more mature when it is stretched.  We can exercise our faith by spending time with our Savior, in prayer and Bible study.  These activities prepare us for the day when our faith will be tested...and it will be tested.  The next time you are required to travel through a difficult life situation, instead of asking "Why me Lord?", say "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."  Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Spillway Revisited

Changing Seasons
 Click on images to enlarge

Early Spring

Late Spring Rain
I find it very interesting how the same place can change with the seasons and the weather.  I have photographed this spillway of one of our local lakes several times and it is never the same.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ruby Tuesday

We've had a long winter and a short spring. However, the Knock-out roses in the front flower bed are beginning to bloom profusely and they will continue to provide a brigth red color to the landscape all summer long. I love capturing images of them in the morning when the dew is still on the petals.  The morning after a rain is an especially good time to photograph these blooms.

Memorial Day 2014

Last night my wife and I were watching the Memorial Day Concert from Washington D.C.  It was a very good program.  There were performances by a multitude of entertainers honoring the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States and made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives on behalf of this great nation.  The most moving segment was the salute to the Greatest Generation, the veterans of World War II.
They were the children of the Great Depression.  They were a generation of humility, honesty, integrity and honor.  They did what they had to do, because it had to be done, and nobody else was going to do it.  They saved the world.  They came home, raised families, and built the greatest nation of the face of the earth.  Many of them kept the horrors of war to themselves, because no one would believe what they endured on the battlefield.  You cannot explain war to someone who hasn't been there.  My father was one of those men who went to war, came home, and lived a long and fruitful life.

Dad passed away in 2009 at the age of eighty-nine.  We are losing this marvelous generation at a rate of over 2000 per day.  They will not be with us much longer.  We owe everything that we are to them.  I miss my Dad.  If you have someone in your family that is a member of the Greatest Generation, cherish them.  Talk to them and learn from them.  They are history, and soon we will only be able to read about them in books.  Have a blessed Memorial Day.  Miss you Dad.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We Are The Champions

Today my wife and I traveled down to Fayetteville to watch the state championship soccer matches.  Both the Bentonville boys and girls teams were involved.  Regulations (someone paid for the photographic rights) prevented me from getting to photograph the events, but I captured this image of two of the girls hoisting the championship trophy.  The Lady Tigers defeated the Bryant, AR girls 3-2 in a thrilling match.
Immediately following the girls match, the boys defeated Springdale Harber 3-0 to make it a sweep.
This year the Bentonville Tiger sports teams have captured 12 state championship trophies.  It's been a very good year.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Up, Up & Away!
The Walmart shareholders meeting is just a few weeks away and that means there will be several specail events planned for those who are in town.  Last year shareholders could ride in the Goodyear blimp.  It will be interesting to see what is planned for the upcoming meeting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Inspiration Thursday

Have you ever noticed that as we grow older time seems to pass more quickly?  Our youthful adventures seem like they happened in another lifetime and like they happened only yesterday. Perhaps the most difficult part of the aging process is the various ailments that beset us.  Yes our memories are not what they used to be, but it's the physical issues that we must adjust to that make life challenging.  Arthritis sets in our joints and no pain reliever truly relieves all of the discomfort.  Joints begin to fail and replacement surgery appears to be in our future. 20/20 vision succumbs to bi-focals, reading glasses, or cataract surgery.  Heart-caths, stints, and Pacemakers become a part of our conversations with friends and family.  We wind up using so many artificial devices to get through life that we feel like the "Six Million Dollar Man". It can all be a little depressing.  There is hope.  Keep one thing in mind.
"This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24).  Life may not be as enjoyable as we would like.  Every day may not bring joy to our soul and we may not always feel like rejoicing.  But, whether we know it or not, God is in control.  He knows where you hurt.  He knows what troubles you and He cares about your physical well being.  He feels your pain.  Yes, He does.  God has given us physicians and medicine to manage many of our ailments and I believe He expects us to make use of these things.  He has also given us His Son and He expects us to to make use of this relationship.  While some may experience a miracle healing, most of us must endure some sort of physical malady in the fall and winter of our lives.  God has given us some advice to deal with all of life's problems. "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3).  God may choose not to heal us from our infirmities, but He gives us the strength, comfort, perserverance, and courage to face each day and deal with our burden.  We may have never known that such power was available to us until we needed it.  It is clear that time alone with God, reading His Word, and talking to Him through prayer, are essential to our relationship with Him.  Only then can we say, "This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."  I may lose my mobility, I may lose my health, I may lose many things, but I want to be able to stand before my Lord and say, "I Never Lost My Praise." Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

After the Rain
Click on image to enlarge

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ruby Tuesday Too - Graduation Edition

The Ruby Red of the University of Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena provided the backdrop for the graduation of the Black and Gold Bentonville Tiger class of 2014 on Saturday.  Our oldest grand daughter was among the graduates.  This year the senior class was 877 strong and earned $7.4 million in scholarships.  The ceremony began at 8:45 a.m. because there was one or two more ceremonies to be held later that day.

It is a proud moment when your grand daughter walks across that platform and receives her diploma.  Yes, that red tassel indicates that she graduated with honors.  And yes, she earned a portion of that $7.4 million.

After the ceremony, family and friends met at our daughter's home for a celebration and refreshments.

Grand parents and parents alike were very proud of the next generation and we look forward to her next life adventure.  She will be attending Quachita Baptist University and majoring in elementary education.  She's going to be a great teacher.  She's always had a knack for teaching kids.  One Thanksgiving we had 31 family members at our home including 9 children under the age of 7, including our grand daughter.  Before the day was over she had all of them on the back deck, sitting in front of a blackboard.  They were playing school and she was the teacher.  It's in her blood.

I think her favorite gift was this memory quilt that Nana made for her.  It is a collection of her t-shirts, including soccer jerseys, church events and school functions.  My wife cut out the squares, prepared them for quilting, cut and sewed the borders.  She had the piece quilted locally, then finished the edge.  It is a special piece that I know our grand daughter will enjoy for years to come.  There are three more grand kids, so Nana may have more work to do.

By the end of the day our grand daughter admitted that her face hurt from smiling so much for photos.  Still it was a wonderful day for the entire family.  Congratulations my dear.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Graduation Day

Today our oldest grand daughter graduates from high school.  It has been an exciting journey and the time has gone by entirely too fast.

I created a couple of photo boards for a party in her honor that will be held this afternoon.  Time and space do not permit me to share all of the memories that these images represent and the joy that she has brought to our family.
Let's just say that she holds a very special place in the hearts of Nana and I.

No one can know for sure what the future will bring, but I know that she will bring life and energy to every endeavor.  Our prayer is that God will continue to watch over her, protect her and guide her every step.  We are going to miss her terribly this fall, but we know that she is starting what may be the most excitiing years of her life.  We could not be more proud of her.

Love you to pieces, Nana & Papa

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Skywatch Friday


 Last Sunday my wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary by spending the week-end in Tulsa.  There will be a cruise later this year.  We met in Tulsa.  We both worked downtown and rode the bus each day.  One day the bus was crowded.  I gave her my seat and the rest is history.  That's the short version.
Sunday afternoon a group of interior designers sponsered an event that featured a complete remodel of this historic Art Deco home in Tulsa.  The group has been doing this for forty-one years.  This home was built in 1937 by the seventeenth employee of Phillips Petrolieum Company.  It is a classic Art Deco structure.  The home is just over 7000 sq. ft.  While that is a lot of home, there are seven living areas, which means that most rooms are small by modern standards.  The house sits on about four acres in south Tulsa, not far from Oral Roberts University.  However, when this structure was built, it was seven miles from nowhere.  If you're in the market for a competely renovated, 7000 sq. ft. home in Tulsa, this one is available for around $3.0 million.
There are several balconies and terraces that stretch the living spaces into the outdoors.  Very nicely done..

Actually the house is relatively unassuming for 7000 sq. ft. of living space.  Of course it has some newer neighbors that appear to be much larger and imposing.

Like I said, several of the living spaces are very intimate in nature and make great conversation areas.  Keep in mind this home was built when conversation was the main means of communication.  No cell phones, no texting, no e-mails.

Another contributing factor to the intimate nature of this home is the low ceilings.  Most of the ceilings were 8 feet high.  I believe that even the game room, on the third level maintained this height. 

No two-story spaces, no vaulted ceilings, no grandiose spaces in this home. That's pretty unusual considering that oil company executives of the 20's and 30's often built huge mansions in Tulsa. At one time Tulsa was considered the oil capitol of the world.
All in all, it was an enjoyable event and one that we may take in again next year.  Have a blessed week-end.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Inspiration Thursday

The end of May brings high school graduation and excitement fills the the house.  We make all sorts of arrangements to celebrate the passage of our youth from high school into the next phase of their lives.  Our oldest grand daughter will graduate in two days.  It seems like only yesterday that we were holding a 5lb 3oz bundle of joy and taking pictures of the newest arrival.  She has plans to attend college and then become a teacher.  She loves being around children and has always had a knack for getting them in a group and teaching them something.  She's going to be a great teacher one of these days.  It is important to plan for the future.  It's even more important to plan for eternity.
While our body may be finite and have a life here on earth, soul is eternal and it will spend eternity somewhere.  The Bible tells us that those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  They will spend an eternity in heaven, living in a place especially prepared for them by the Savior.  Those who fail to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God and refuse His salvation will spend eternity in a place prepared for Satan and his demons.  Eventually they will be cast into a lake of fire that the Bible describes as the second death.  I would not wish that second death on anyone, but many will choose this option by simply failing to see the truth that is in Jesus Christ.  We choose where we will spend eternity by accepting or rejecting the salvation provided by our Creator.  I choose life eternal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Land, Sky, Water
This house sits on one of the local lakes.  I really like what they've done with the landscape.  The waterfall is really a nice touch.  It was a good day to be on the water.  The wind was manageable, the water was clear, and a fish or two decided that my lure was worth biting.  All in all, a happy day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Force Be With Me

May is going to be a very busy month.  In fact, I'm not sure how much posting I will get done.  I've already missed two Scavenger Hunt Sunday posts and I don't know when I will get back to participating in that photo hunt.  What is so busy about May, you ask?
Of course we have little league baseball, and youth soccer that two of the grand kids are participating in.  That means a trip or two to the park each week.  The weather has cleared up and I can now get the boat out and harass fish once a week. But these are regular parts of my May schedule.  This week my wife is helping with the Senior banquet at the Church on Monday night.  Our daughter and her husband will be there with our oldest grand daughter, who is graduating from high school in two weeks.

That means I get the three younger grandcrew.  One has soccer practice and one has dance rehearsal.  Guess who is the limo driver.  Yep, and the grandson will be my wing man.


 Soccer Monster

 Wing Man

On Saturday the 10th we are attending a bridal shower and family cook-out for our niece.  We will be leaving that venue to drive to Tulsa to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary...kind of.  Our anniversary really is Sunday May 11, but the real celebration will consist of an Alaskan cruise later this year.

 40 Years and Counting

On Friday May the 16th, a group from our church is taking a day trip to Branson, MO. to see the musical Jonah, at the Sight and Sound Theater.

On Saturday the 17th our oldest grand daughter graduates from high school at 9:00 a.m.  There are over 1000 in her class.  The ceremony will take place at Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus.  There will be two other high schools graduation ceremonies that day in the same facility.  It is good to be the first one scheduled.  Parking will be non existent for the second crowd.  After the graduation ceremony there will be a reception for the graduate at our daughter's home.  I've been working on some photos for a display.  Stay tuned, I hope to share some later this month.
On Sunday, May 25 there is a graduation reception for our grand daughter and her cousin in Ft. Smith.  And that brings us to the end of May.  Whew, I need a nap.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Skywatch Friday

I think last night was the final opportunity for freezing temperatures to interfere with the coming of spring.  This has been a very unusual year already.  It was 35 degrees when I got up this morning.  Winter was much longer and colder than normal.  Now, spring looks like it will short lived and summer will be here very soon.  Still, green grass and blue skies are a pleasant sight to behold.