Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 Christmas Music Marathon Day 4

In the old testament God told the prophet Jeremiah that there would come a day when His relationship with Israel would change.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt..." Jeremiah 31:31-32
That change was Jesus Christ. This is the first announcement regarding the birth of Christ and it happened 470 years prior to that first Christmas night. He was the new covenant. Before to the birth  of Christ Israel was to worship God through a priesthood out of the tribe of Levi. Christ was from the tribe of Judah and He brought with Him direct access to the living God. The birth of Christ signaled the beginning of the new covenant and His death, burial, and resurrection sealed the implementation of that new covenant with anyone who accepted Christ as their Savior. He was Heaven's Child.

Thanksgiving 2015 - Wordless Wednesday

Thanksgiving was spent with my cousins in Kentucky. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and returned home on Saturday. We had a great time with family that we don't get to see but once every couple of years. 
 Thursday was all about family and food. There was plenty of both and everyone had a great time.
There was some basketball and football to be watched, but the games were hardly the focus of the day. However, on Friday we went to see some very special athletes.
 Everyone loaded up and we headed to Churchill Downs for some horse racing.  I have never been to a race track on race day. These animals are beautiful and you can see every muscle. They are finely tuned athletes that love to run.

And they're off! There were twelve races scheduled for the day. The races varied between 1-1/8 mile to about 1-1/2 mile. Two of the races were run on the grass track that is inside of the dirt (actually sand) main track. The position of the starting line varies, but the finish line is always at the same location.

The first few paces out of the gate can set the tone for the race. One or two of the horses want to lead from start to finish. A couple want to trail the leaders but stay close enough to overtake them in the final section of the race.
It can get pretty exciting in the final straight as they head to the finish line. This week-end the stands were far from full, so we could wander just about anywhere along the track and take photos.
This is probably my favorite image. Note that all four feet are off of the ground. We had a great time at the track and didn't wager a dime. Some people believe that there is a great deal of skill involved in picking a winner. I think it is much more of a game of chance than skill. I was just happy to get to photograph something new in sports. So, how was your Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Christmas Music Marathon Day 3

There are a lot of things associated with Christmas. Good food, football games, holiday decorations, gift exchanges, etc. I've come to realize that the most important thing about Christmas is spending time with the family celebrating the birth of our Savior. Several years from now none of us will remember what we got or what we gave as gifts to one another, but we will remember spending time together and we will remember the family Christmas traditions. Our family has several traditions. At some point the grandcrew come over and spend a day baking cookies and other goodies. The food isn't nearly important as the fellowship. Memories are made and captured, to be shared for years to come. The image above was taken on Christmas Eve 2007, two years before my dad passed away. Our daughter and the four grandcrew are gathered around Papa Yogi. His real name was not Yogi, but it is a nickname that stuck. Christmas time will always be special around our house.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2015 Christmas Music Marathon Day 2

Not every Christmas song is easily identified as Christmas music. We have to listen closely in order to realize that the lyrics are announcing the birth of Christ in a new way. Everyone may be familiar with Hark the Herald Angels Sing, but this song declares the same message in a more contemporary verse. Have a blessed day.

Friday, November 27, 2015

2015 Christmas Music Marathon Day 1

Welcome, welcome, welcome!!! Today marks the beginning of the sixth year that I have been doing my Christmas Music Marathon. You may be recovering from too much Thanksgiving, Black Friday midnight shopping specials, or in the middle of this holiday week-end football marathon on every television network on the planet. But if you are ready to focus on Christmas, and the true meaning of Christmas, you have landed at the right place. Every day between now and Christmas I will post at least one music video that celebrates the most important event in human history, the birth of Jesus Christ.
I am a traditionalist. One of my music marathon traditions is to start with a certain video. Many people mark the beginning of this holiday season by fighting the crowds to secure special bargain prices on what have been determined to be the most desirable gifts of the year. The malls are crammed with people scurrying from store to store, eager to swipe their credit cards to purchase gifts that may be returned in a few weeks. Others avoid the crowds by shopping online but the electronic shopping frenzy is no less furious. One song reminds of the streets of Bethlehem and that maybe we should spend a little time in the city of the birth of our Savior.  Let the marathon begin. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Art Deco Canyon Interiors

Last week I shared some images of the wonderful collection of art deco buildings that line the downtown streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I grew up in Tulsa Even though I have now lived in NW Arkansas longer than I lived in Tulsa, I am an Okie to the core and Tulsa will always be my hometown. This week I have some of images of the interiors of these great structures that were built by the oil barons of the 20's & 30's.
One of the great things about this period of art & architecture is that NO surface was immune to the designers touch. Here is an ornate mail box that adorns the lobby of one of the buildings.
Here is the entry corridor into the building. Notice the floor tile. Like I said, every surface was an opportunity for the designer to express themselves. The corridor leads to the main lobby below.
Talk about making a statement! Honestly, this lobby is not huge, but it makes a visual impact that just leaves  you speechless. Again, notice the ornate detail of the railing on the stairs and mezzanine.
Even elevator passengers were surrounded with art deco designs. I LOVE this stuff!!!
Elevator doors were a perfect canvas for exploring the geometric patterns that most of us have come to associate with the art deco style.
There is actually a collection of art deco accessories in these display windows. Some of the buildings featured gold leaf on the ceilings. One thing that oil barons seem to have in common is that no expense is spared when it comes to building architectural monuments to their business accomplishments.

Smoking was much more acceptable during this period and an elegant place to put your pipe, cigar, or cigarette was a necessity. These ash trays were designed to be placed next to a lounge chair. Again, no design opportunity was overlooked.
If you are ever in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you really need to spend a couple of hours downtown, looking at the great art deco design that  is a part of the history of my favorite city. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
Okay, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Have a blessed day with those you love celebrating all that we have to be thankful for, living in the greatest nation on earth. Then, come back Friday for the kick-off of my annual Christmas Music Marathon posts. Every day, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will post an image of the season and music that will help you focus on the true meaning of Christmas. See you on Friday.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ruby Tuesday Too

Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is still a couple of days away, but this is just a reminder that my annual Christmas Music Marathon begins Friday morning. For the past five years I have posted a Christmas thought and a seasonal music video every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, when you have your fill of Turkey and you've done all of your Black Friday shopping, stop by here to get a dose of the true meaning of Christmas .

And because that Hope did come down, we can now have Victory in Jesus. Have a blessed day and a Thankful week.

Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Blog Blast for Peace

In the madness that this world has become, I completely let the Blog Blast for Peace slip past my calendar of events. So, with my Peace Globe in place, here is my thought for the year.
Peace is a matter of the heart. When the heart and soul are at peace, the person is at peace and as someone has said, "What consumes your mind will control your life." This planet is being consumed by hearts filled with bitterness, hate, prejudice and greed. Those who believe that forcing their will on others through war and terror will bring peace and make this planet a better place are sadly mistaken. Their hearts will never be truly satisfied. There will always be one more thing to conquer and still, satisfaction will not come. Again, it has been said, "The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skywatch Friday

End of Day
I can only imagine that when the farmer turns the last corner on the gravel road and this view of his property comes into sight, he is well pleased. He says to himself, "It's been a good day." How often do any of us arrive at home, after spending the daylight hours at work, running errands, or doing other tasks that are necessary, can pull into our place of residence and say, "It's been a good day." More importantly, regardless of our circumstances, can bow our heads and tell our Creator, "It's been a good day." We are not promised fame, fortune, or an easy life in this world. We are promised by the God of all Creation that He will meet our needs. We are promised that He loves us and, if we belong to Him, He will be with us in all of our circumstances. We may have to endure some hardships and life may not be a bed of roses, but He is faithful and our reward is not here. Our reward is spending an eternity in a place that He has prepared for us. When we focus on our relationship with Christ and His divine will for our lives, we can come into the evening hours and say, "It's been a good day."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inspiration Thursday

Autumn 2015

I LOVE Autumn. I love the changing colors of the leaves, cooler temperatures, and the great sunsets. Every year I make a few trips around town to find trees that are exploding with color and photograph a few examples. All of the images in these photos were found in our own church parking lot.

Not all of the colors are found on the trees. Just look down and you will find that splash of color among the decaying leaves and grass that is beginning to go dormant for the coming winter.
There are even bits of color left in some of the leaves that have already been kicked to the curb.

 Honestly though, the real color is still to be found in those leaves that are clinging to life and giving us a glorious display before falling to the ground.

If  you live in a part of this great nation that produces a beautiful display of autumn hues, get out there and take in the view. But don't just admire from a distance, walk up close and see just how wonderful this creation is.  Have a blessed week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Art Deco Canyon

Art Deco Canyon 

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At one time Tulsa was considered to be the oil capitol of the world. The result was that during the mid 1920's through the late 1940's the oil barons built an impressive collection of art deco buildings.  A blogging friend recently dubbed this area of downtown the "Art Deco Canyon" and I think it is the perfect description. When ever my wife and I return to Tulsa, I LOVE going downtown and photographing some of the most beautiful buildings in this part of the country. Recently, my 50 year high school reunion was held in downtown Tulsa, so we spent part of one afternoon walking around the area. My wife and I both worked downtown and met on the metropolitan bus, but that's another story for another day. Here are but a few examples of the exteriors. Next week, we will take a look at some of the interiors and details. I could spend a week in a nine square block area and never get bored of making images.
If you plan to visit Tulsa, there is a tunnel tour that is really cool. That's right several of these buildings are connected by underground tunnels. Many workers still use them to get around when the weather turns bad. Have a blessed Day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ruby Tuesday Too

Hanging On
 The last leaves of autumn are hanging on for dear life. This past week wind gusts have exceeded 45 mph and the temperatures have dipped near freezing. Even the most hardy trees will soon release their leaves and settle in for a long winter nap. I managed to capture a couple of final images of the Fall of 2015. Have a blessed week.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Aww Monday

Recently I was at a local park/lake which is frequented by and home to a variety of waterfowl. This is what happens when you feed the animals. They discontinue their migratory flight. They become dependent on human handouts. They nest and hatch a brood. The brood is now imprinted that this place is home and the cycle never ends. The new hatchlings never realize that they are supposed to winter in the north and migrate to the south. They just believe that this place is their permanent home and will continue to raise generations of ducks that have no clue what they are supposed to be doing. Still, when you see one up close, you just say Aww, and look for a snack to share.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Skywatch Friday

First Light
Not only is autumn usually the best time of year to capture awesome sunrises,  but with the sunrise happening later each day, it's easier to do. If you tried to get this image in August, you might have to be awake by 5:00 a.m. and in your favorite photo spot by 5:45 a.m. I've missed some great images by not being in the right place before 6:00 a.m. In the fall you can often be in your spot by 7:00 a.m. and still be there in time for first light.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Inspiration Thursday - Up Close & Personal

Last week shared an image of a foot bridge from my walk in the woods. The fall colors were just beginning to peak and the leaves were starting to cover the forest floor. If you stop and examine the details of the changing season, you can see life springing from death. Here, a fallen tree, that has literally turned black supports at least two varieties of fungus. Where we can only see death, there is actually life in abundance. If we were to examine the internal structure of this woodland corpse we might find a multitude of insects that call it home and contribute to the decomposition process. One day this lifeless trunk will be completely decomposed, turned into dirt and become the soil that supports the food source for yet another generation of forest plants. Out of the decay will rise a new creation. When we acknowledge our sinful behavior, our need for salvation, and that Christ is indeed the Son of the living God. When we are willing to ask for forgiveness, and invite Christ to become the Lord of our lives, by His grace He will save us and out of the decay, we will become a new creation. There is nothing greater than grace. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wordless Wednesday


 Fall Fest Up Close & Personal 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ruby Tuesday - Changing Seasons

The heat of summer begins to fade and the grass no longer requires weekly attention. Then, the leaves on the trees and shrubs begin to show a hint of color. The seasons are changing and Autumn is upon us. Even though fall is three months long, the peak colors only last a few weeks. Even when the leaves surrender to the wind, turn loose of their branch and float to the ground, they remain colorful for a brief time. I love Autumn. How about you?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Inspiration Thursday - Blowing Springs Park

A blogging friend of mine hosts a blog meme called Thankful Thursday and each week people share their thoughts about what things in their life they are thankful for. In a world filled with stress, pain, suffering, and life moving much to fast, it is a great idea to stop and spend a few minutes the think about what is good in your life. I am truly thankful for the place where I live, not only this great nation, but the locale that my wife and I call home. Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful part of this country. We get to experience all four seasons, but not truly extreme winters or summers. We live in town, but the country is only a few minutes from the house in almost any direction.
The foot bridge pictured above is in Blowing Springs park, in Bella Vista, AR, which is about 15 minutes from our house. It's one of my favorite places to photograph. In the spring red bud trees and dogwoods line this path. In the summer it is a shade covered retreat from the heat of the day and in the fall, as  you can see, it is filled with the colors of the season. What inspires you to be thankful. Have a blessed day.