Sunday, October 30, 2016

Awe...some Mondays

Friday Night Lights

I love high school football. I love photographing high school football. The high schools in our area play a pretty high quality brand of the game so they are really exciting to watch. Now that our town has two high schools, there is a local game EVERY Friday night and senior citizens  can get an all sports pass that gives them free admission to every game of every sport for the entire school year.

The team in the dark uniforms is the new high school team in town. This is their first year so the team is made up of sophomores and juniors. All seniors were allowed to stay at the first high school in town and complete their high school experience where they started. It's always been that way. Here you see some pretty good pass defense.

The team in the white jerseys is the top rated team in the conference, and on this night they demonstrated why they are undefeated in conference play.

Here the ball carrier is escorted into the endzone with not a dark jersey in sight. It was a long night for the new team in the conference, but they have some talent and they will be a very competitive team next season.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Inspiration Thursday

Have you ever watched a Cross-Fit competition, Triathlon or maybe American Ninja on television. Do you find yourself asking how in the world do those athletes do those things. They push their bodies beyond the limits human endurance. A full triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run consecutively. Cross Fit events involve running, jumping, weight lifting events and American Ninja is a series of increasingly difficult obstacles that must be negotiated against the clock. The people who compete in these events are driven. They do not let difficulty, disappointment for failure deter them. The fall they get back up, get back in the competition and finish the event. They may be bleeding, limping, and near exhaustion, but they are determined to finish the race. Most of us Christians could learn a thing or two from these athletes about determination.
For most of us life is a marathon and our relationship with Christ can be a challenge. It can resemble a cross-fit course that is filled with obstacles that we have to overcome. When we feel like we have failed in our Christian walk it can be easy to just give up and live our life on our own terms. We would be missing the blessing of seeing Christ active in our lives.
The apostle Paul had an unknown disability that he thought was hindering his ministry. He prayed earnestly that God would remove this thorn in his side. In fact Paul called upon God three times to relieve him of his difficulty. God's answer was,"My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)  God's grace allowed Paul to put his trouble behind him, focus on being the apostle that God had called him to be and write one third of the New Testament. 
The world around us bears witness to our life and our life is our testimony of our relationship with Christ. How are we to live that life? Paul gives this counsel. "Therefore we aslo, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Paul was determined to finish the race. Toward the end of his life and ministry the old apostle wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8) Paul was determined to finish the race of life that God had set before him and he longed to hear the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First High School Homecoming

Our youngest granddaughter is a high school freshman. Yesterday I posted images from the homecoming football game on Friday night. The homecoming dance was held on Saturday evening. Many of the kids gather at various popular places around town for photo opportunities. The oldest and most traditional place is at Bogle Park. We got there about 4:00 p.m., took a few family photos and were done by 4:45. Here are some of the images.

This turned out to be everyone's favorite image of Lexi. There is always a sparkle in those  eyes.

 Of course you have to have one photo with all of your friends.

After all of the traditional homecoming photos are taken, it's time for the family to take advantage of the opportunity to get a few image for the family album. Here they are.

Let's start with one good image with mom and dad.

Now let's add the siblings. Little brother looks thrilled to be there.

 Don't forget Nana & Papa! 

And the first homecoming photo shoot is in the books.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Awe...some Mondays - Friday Night Lights - Homecoming

Last Friday night was homecoming for one of the local high schools. The team is very good and has competed for the state title in football on a regular basis. I didn't get any images of the homecoming queen or her court because I was in the end zone preparing to photograph the game.

The school mascot brought her hover board so she could get up and down the side lines quickly.

The home stands were full and the fans eager for a victory that would bring them one step closer to the play-offs.

The band was pumped. They are a competition band and the Mona Lisa on their drums is part of the program that they presented at halftime and will preform at regional and national band competitions this year.

It didn't take long for the home team (in black) to set the tone for the game. Their first touchdown came just a little over one minute into the game.

The defense made it known that it was going to be a long night for the visitors on offense.

Another touchdown for the home team.

The defense almost blocked this punt.

The passing game was clicking on all cylinders.

And the defense just kept the pressure on. The home team won 49-7, just like homecoming is supposed to be. Get out there and watch some high school sports. It's great, cheap entertainment. Have a blessed week.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Inspiration Thursday - Have Thine Own Way

When most Christians pray, we spend a great deal of time in intercessory prayer. That is to say, we are asking God to do something in the life of someone else. We ask Him to heal friends or family that are sick, and we should. We call on God to give comfort to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one and it is the right thing to do. We go before the throne to ask the Creator to make His presence know in someone the life of another, and He is pleased. However, there is one request that we could make that would be most beneficial to our relationship with Christ and the answer is before us. We could ask God to give us knowledge, wisdom and understanding of His Word and His ways. King David was described as a man after God's heart and reading the 119th Psalm it is easy to see why. David recognized that God has commanded all of His children to know Him better when he wrote, "You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" (Psalm 119:4-5). David may have spent more time seeking knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from the Lord than he did praying for sick friends, or grieving relatives. David understood that if God granted him the close relationship that he sought, he could be the instrument of change in the lives of others rather than asking God to send someone else to be that conduit through which God works in the lives of people we know and love. Where do we find the wisdom and knowledge that we wish to have." David knew the answer when he wrote, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart,That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD!Teach me Your statutes." (Psalm 119:9-12) David realized that we often get distracted by things that don't really matter in this life, therefore he asked God to give him focus and show him how to set his priorities in life when he petitioned the Creator, "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way." (Psalm119:37) David understood one thing about God's Word that all of us would do well to know when he acknowledged, "Forever, O LORD,Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) Through all of this scripture, David seems to be asking of God, "When it comes to my life Lord, have Thine own way." Have a blessed day.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wordless Wednesday


Hand thrown coffee mug from The Old Mill Pottery, Pigeon Forge, TN

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Aww...some Mondays

Last Monday was indeed an awesome Monday. I drove to Tulsa to pick up the photos that I had entered in the Tulsa State Fair. Since I didn't go to the fair, I had no idea if any of my six entries placed in the competition. To my pleasant surprise, four of my six entries captured ribbons. Here they are.
 Senior Adult Division - Color Portrait - 1st Place

 Senior Adult Division - Color sunrise/sunset - 1st Place
Senior Adult Division - Color sports/action - 2nd Place

Open  Division - B&W Sports/Action - 2nd Place

The dancer and the high jumper are two of our granddaughters. I have now won a ribbon with a photograph of each of our four grandkids. Awesome!!! Have a blessed day.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Inspiration Thursday

"I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens and Your truth unto the clouds." (Psalm 57:9-10)
 Mercy and truth are only two of the attributes of God that give His people cause to praise Him. In a world that teaches "relative truth" the child of God can rest assured that the truth of God and His Word is steadfast and unchanging. This is exactly why Christians can depend on God's Word to guide their lives. There are those who would tell you that truth is relative to the world view of the person. That statement alone is incorrect. The unique quality of the truth is that it does not require you to believe it in order to be true. The earth has always been round regardless of what men have believed in the past. There are those who believe that there are multiple ways to get to heaven and that virtually everyone is going there when they die. They are going to be terribly disappointed when they  stand before the judgment seat of Christ and hear Him say, "I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23) Christ speaks of Himself when he tells His apostles, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The truth is that there is only one way to heaven and that is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The great news is that His mercy and His grace are available to everyone who will place their trust in the in the only name under heaven by which men must be saved. That is cause for the heart to sing praises to the Creator of the universe and Who desires to spend eternity with His people. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

2016 Bikes, Blues, & BBQ
Fayetteville, AR


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Awe...some Mondays

I have admit that Autumn is my favorite time of the year. There is a nip in the air, the leaves explode into a myriad of colors and sports photography opportunities abound. Our youngest (if you call fifteen youngest) granddaughter is playing soccer in a co-ed league. She is preparing to try out of the high school soccer team next spring.
Her first goal of the match came mid-way through the first half. She is 5'-8" and deceptively fast. When she gets those long legs into full stride, she is hard to defend. Oh yes, she's No. 6 in the light blue jersey.
 Her second and final goal of the contest came in the second half. Once again she has gotten by the defender and has a clear shot at the goal. It was a frustrating night for No. 3 in white.

I have always thought that soccer was the best game for young kids. At the ages of 6-8, all a child has to do is run and kick a ball and what healthy 6 year old can't do that. Other sports require more skills in order to be proficient and kids sometimes get frustrated when they are a little slow in developing those skills. While the skills necessary to be really good at soccer take time and practice to learn, running and kicking a ball is all that is required to get on the field.
 While I have major concerns with the "Travel Sports" programs, in which parents are trying to relive their dreams through their kids, I think that every child should try to play a team sport. Obviously, team sports teach teamwork, but the kids can also develop friendships that may last a lifetime.

 Kids learn to communicate and support one another. Something that is severely lacking in our society and something that social media will NEVER accomplish.

Of course there is the obvious benefits of exercise and just being outside. Get your kids out there and let them have a blessed childhood!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Inspiration Thursday - One Way

When faced with a difficult task or situation, I am sure you have heard someone say, "With God all things are possible." This phrase is often used as an encouragement to some one facing a seemingly impossible situation. Christ Himself uttered these words to explain salvation to His own disciples. A wealthy young man had just asked the Lord what he must to to obtain eternal life. Christ told the rich young ruler that he must keep all of the commandments, to which the young man replied that he had kept all of the Laws of Moses since he was a child and was not guilty of breaking a single commandment. Christ told the young man that if he wished to be perfect that he needed to sell all of his earthly possessions and give them to the poor. The young ruler said he could not do that because he was very wealthy. With those words he broke multiple commandments. He revealed that he loved himself and his possessions more than his fellow man. He valued those possessions more than his relationship with God, and he lied about never breaking any of the commandments. This event gives us a clear picture of what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Our world is filled with people that believe they are going to heaven because they have done nothing that would warrant the wrath of God and eternal punishment. Christ showed that the standard for entering heaven based on works, is perfection and that is not possible for any one of us. Ceremoniously attending church and being baptized is not adequate. Doing great deeds and giving to charities is not enough. There is only one person in all of creation that has lived a life free of sin and worthy of entering into heaven based on His own life and that person is Jesus Christ. All of the rest of us need a Savior and that Savior is Jesus Christ. The Bible makes it very clear, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved."(Acts 2:21). "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) There is only one way. There is only one salvation. Jesus Saves! Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - The Biltmore

The Biltmore Estate
Last week my wife and I spent a week in the Great Smokey Mountains. We attended the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN. During our visit, we took a side trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate. It is a magnificent structure with a rich history that most people never hear about. For much more about the history of this historic site and family, click here.
The Biltmore was opened on December 24, 1895, after six years of construction and a couple of the rooms were still not finished. The home is 175,000 sq. ft.! For you doing the math, that is four and one half acres of living space. It sits on an 8,000 acre working estate. The architect was Richard Morris Hunt, who also has Grand Central Station in NYC in his portfolio of projects.  At one time the owner, George Vanderbilt owned 125,000 acres surrounding the residence which meant that if you stood on one of the baclonies and viewed  the surrounding mountains, you owned everything you could see. When Vanderbilt acquired the property it was mostly a clear cut forest. In other words, it was a wasteland. He bought the property with the intent of restoring the forest and building a working estate, much like those found in Europe. Mr. Vanderbilt employed the services of Fredrick Law Olmstead, designer of Central Park in NYC to develop the plans for the restoration of the property. Through the work of Olmstead and the support of Vanderbilt, the work on the property laid the groundwork for the U.S. Forestry Service.
The Biltmore is the largest privately owned residence in the U.S. and is currently owned by George Vanderbilt's grandson, who lives in another residence on the property. Several other family members live on the estate grounds. For the family members there is a rule that when the children graduate from college they must work outside of the family business for two years. After that time frame, if they still feel led to work for the family business, they can return. Otherwise they are free to pursue their own destiny. And now, a few images of the estate.

 The Winter Garden is the first space that you encounter beyond the entry to the home. This is were guests would be greeted by the owner.

 If you were invited to dinner, this is where it would be served. The vaulted ceiling in this space soars to seventy feet high. There are additional chairs along the wall and there are enough leaves that can be added to this table to accommodate sixty-four guests. Dinner would be served promptly at 8:00.

The exterior details are simply breathtaking. If you have a bucket list, you need to put the Biltmore on it. During the Christmas season there is an evening candlelight tour. We have added that to the list. Have a blessed day.