Wednesday, January 17, 2018


My An Arkie's Faith column from the January 17, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

For the past week, my Mom has been in the inpatient rehabilitation unit of the local hospital. After spending a week in the intensive care unit, she was transferred to the rehabilitation unit where she has been given physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Rehabilitation is the process of restoring a person's ability to live and work as normally as possible after an illness. It helps the patient achieve maximum possible physical fitness and regain the ability to be independent. It offers assistance with skills needed in everyday activities. My Mom is looking forward to regaining her strength so that she can return home.

Rehabilitation is not only for the person who has suffered a serious illness. It can also be treatments designed to facilitate the process of recovery from an injury to as normal a condition as possible. Every patient in an injury rehab program has to follow a recovery plan so that they will gain strength and avoid re-injury.

Spiritually we have all been injured and are in need of rehabilitation. Every one of us at some time has been spiritually wounded. How have you been injured? Do you have relationships with other Christians that have been damaged? Have you placed your trust in a church system or a leader instead of God? Have you lost your faith in God? Because spiritual matters are complex, it can be hard to find the problem. Any of these things can injure our faith and leave us in need of healing.

When we have a physical injury, we can see the need for healing and rehabilitation. But the negative spiritual effects of painful physical events often aren’t as obvious to us. Has betrayal, rejection, loss, or abuse left you wondering where God is?

In Hebrews 12:12-14 (NASB) There is a passage that sounds a lot like rehabilitation. “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

In a society that is obsessed with instant gratification, rehabilitation seems hard. Many of us are not willing to put in the time and effort needed. Spiritually, we want things to improve immediately. I don’t know anyone who likes to wait. Waiting can test our faith. When we have been injured, and need rehabilitation, we are often impatient and discouraged. When our rehabilitation doesn’t happen quickly, we begin to wonder if God cares.

Rehabilitation simply means working back to health. As painful as injuries are, they are only a stage. There is a future. Whatever the enemy has tried to take away from you, God wants to restore it. God wants to make it better than before. Every day we have choices to make. We can be tempted to get hurt, wounded, or depressed. We can complain and remain in the same awful condition. Or we can give our cares to God and begin our rehabilitation. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

It isn’t unusual for people to be discouraged in times of trouble and tribulation. In the Bible, there are many examples of godly men and women who were spiritually injured and were discouraged. King David wrote many of the Psalms during the dark times in his life. The Psalms of David can encourage us when we are depressed, tired and discouraged. Even though David had experienced some dark times and had been injured by others, he wrote these beautiful words in Psalms 23:1-3 (NKJV) “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

When other people injure you, don’t be discouraged or depressed. Don’t allow what people say to control your emotions. You control your destiny. God has promised to restore you. He is painfully aware of your suffering. When you cry, He is aware. Psalms 56:8 (NLT) tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” And In Psalms 34:15, 17-19 (NASB) we read, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Gentle Reader, if you have been injured and need rehabilitation, Jesus says, “come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) No matter what others have done to you, no matter what spiritual wounds have been inflicted on you, Jesus says, “I will restore you to health, and I will heal you of your wounds.” Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Emergency Room

My An Arkie's Faith column from the January 10, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

Last week my Mom called my wife to let her know that she had gotten an appointment with the cardiologist. When she got off the phone, my wife immediately called me to tell me that I should take my Mom to the emergency room. “Mom was out of breath from talking on the phone. She needs help now,” my wife said. I called my Mom and told her that I would be there in 15 minutes and go with her and Daddy to the emergency room.

Daddy drove Mom, and I followed in my shop truck. When we arrived, I planned to go inside and get a wheelchair, but Daddy drove up to the emergency room door, and Mom got out and walked inside. I quickly parked and ran in to help her. When I got inside, I saw that the waiting room was full. I hurried to catch up with Mom. She was at the registration desk. They asked her what the problem was, but she was so out of breath that she couldn’t answer. I told them that she couldn’t breathe. In less than a minute, there was someone there with a wheelchair, and they whisked her away.

I finished with the registration process, and then they took Daddy and me back to see her. She was already on oxygen and able to talk with us. I was thankful for the quick response of the emergency room team, but I couldn’t help thinking about all those people in the waiting area who hadn’t been helped yet.

If you’ve ever been to the emergency room, you’ve experienced the process known as triage. Triage is a French word that means “to sort out,” and it refers to the system that doctors and nurses use to decide which patients are in dire need of help and who isn’t. I looked up triage in the dictionary, and one of the definitions given was, “the sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care.” If a doctor were to treat someone with a cold while another patient with a heart attack goes unattended and dies, the doctor and the hospital would be in trouble. Some situations call for immediate attention, while others can wait. I’m thankful that the decision was made to help my Mom immediately.

Every day, each one of us has to make triage decisions in our life. We only have 24 hours. We have to decide what is most important to us. I recently read a story that illustrates what is most important. A time management teacher stood in front of his corporate overachiever students. He said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He picked up a gallon, wide mouth jar and set it on the table. Then he took some fist-sized rocks and placed them in the jar. When the jar was filled to the top, and he could fit in no more rocks he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said “yes.” He said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in, and asked them once more, “Is this jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not.” one of the students said. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar, and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No,” the class shouted.

Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was full to the brim. The truth this illustration teaches us is that If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life? If you sweat the little stuff, the gravel, the sand, the water, you will fill your life with little worries that don’t matter. You will never have the real quality time that you need to spend on the big things.

What is the biggest rock of all? What matters most? In Matthew 22:36-39 (NKJV) we read, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” Barbara Bush said it in a slightly different way, “What matters most is how you treat others and not what you have done.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,3 (NLT) if I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

Gentle Reader, what matters most in life is love. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:16 (NLV) “We have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love. If you live in love, you live by the help of God and God lives in you.” Love should be your top priority, primary objective, and greatest ambition. Love is not just something good in your life; it’s the most important part. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT) Paul tells us to “let love be your highest goal!” It is not enough just to say that love is important; we must prove it by investing time in our relationships with God and people.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Free Promotion

I am brand new to self-publishing. I published my first book in the spring of 2017, and just released my second book last month. I have learned a lot in the last year; at least I hope that I have learned from my mistakes. One of the first things that I discovered was how hard it is to self-edit. By the time that I have written and re-written a story, I am so familiar with it that it is hard to see typos and poorly written elements. My mind sees the page as it should be instead of how it actually is.

The second thing that I discovered is how uncomfortable I am with self-promotion. There is a line from the movie Field of Dreams that says, "if you build it, he will come." In popular culture, the line is more often misquoted as "if you build it, they will come." I must admit that I had that mindset when I published my book. I now have a book, surely people will come and purchase it.

The reality that every author, musician, artist or other creative person faces is that if you don't promote yourself, nobody will. Self-promotion is a necessity even if it is an uncomfortable one. No one likes a braggart, and self-promotion seems a bit like bragging. Look at me! Look what I have done!

Sometimes friends and acquaintances mistake promotion as being too full of yourself. But there is no other way to let people know that you have something that they might be interested in. I think that the reason that many authors, musicians, etc. are uncomfortable with self-promotion - and aren't very good at it - is a lack of self-confidence. Should anybody care about what I have created? Is it worth anyone's time or money? What will people think about what I am trying to promote? Just about anyone who creates something has doubts about how good it is.

If you are confident that you have a good product, it is a fine line between having confidence in what you are promoting and appearing to be full of yourself. I am trying to walk that fine line as I promote my new book.

I am quite aware that I have a lot of room for improvement as a writer, but in my latest book, I believe that I bring a unique perspective to a very crowded genre. There are lots of people writing about spiritual things. I use personal experiences, local events, and national news as a way to bring out spiritual truths in the short devotionals included in my book. Each story ends with a simple, uncomplicated point and is less than 1,000 words in length so that the book can be read a few minutes at a time.

As a part of my promotion for the book, In the Fog - Devotionals from a small town, I am offering a download of the Kindle version on Amazon for free through January 13, 2018. You can read it at no cost to you other than time. Don't let my uncomfortable self-promotion have been in vain. Go to Amazon and download your free copy of In the Fog. If you would like a paperback copy, it is available for just $3.58.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In the Fog

In December, I published my second book in the Devotionals from a small town series titled, In the Fog. I write a weekly column for the Religion section of The Mena Star. In August 2015, the newspaper hired Sarah Wilson, a young journalist from Louisiana, as editor of the paper. Her very first issue included an article she wrote about the upcoming county fair. She contacted me and asked if she could use some photos of the fair that she had found on this blog. From this contact, they developed a working relationship. Sarah was happy to include articles that I contributed to the paper.

In December 2015, Sarah called me and outlined a plan that she had for the newspaper in the new year. She was planning on a weekly column for the religion page written by a local writer instead of using a syndicated column. From reading my blog, she knew that I often wrote on spiritual topics. Sarah asked me if I would be willing to commit to writing a weekly column. I agreed, and the new column, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016, with an article titled One Little Candle.

Over the past two years, I have used personal experiences, local events, and national news as a way to bring out spiritual truths. Feedback from the local community has been positive. I will continue to write the column through 2018.

In March 2017, I published a book titled The Little Things – Devotionals from a small town. The book contains devotionals taken from my weekly newspaper column. My new book, In the Fog, is the second in the Devotionals from a small town series. Both books are available on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle format at the links below.

In the Fog (paperback) - $3.58

In the Fog (kindle) - $0.99

The Little Things (paperback) - $3.58

The Little Things (kindle) - $0.99

Geminid Meteor Shower

My An Arkie's Faith column from the January 3, 2018, issue of The Mena Star

The Geminid meteor shower can be seen every year between December 4 and December 16, with its peak activity being around December 13-14. The Geminids were first observed in 1862. The meteor shower is named Geminid because the meteors seem to emerge from the constellation Gemini. The Geminids can be seen with the naked eye from the Northern Hemisphere.

Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminids are not associated with a comet but with the asteroid, 3200 Phaethon, which approaches the Sun closer than any other named asteroid. Its nearest approach to the sun is only 13 million miles which is less than half of the planet Mercury's distance from the sun.

Phaethon was the first asteroid discovered by using images from a spacecraft. Astronomers discovered it on October 11, 1983. Shortly after its discovery, Astronomers observed that the orbital elements of the asteroid were the same as the orbital elements of 19 Geminid meteors. They determined that Phaethon is the parent body of the Geminids meteor shower of mid-December.

This year my wife and I watched the Geminid meteor shower from my cousin's house on a hilltop overlooking the valley below. The four of us sat outside visiting and drinking hot chocolate as we looked up into the sky waiting to see falling stars. Over the next hour and a half, we saw dozens of meteors streaking across the sky.

As we craned our necks to see the next falling star, I noticed something unusual. Even though we were all looking in basically the same direction and for the same thing, seldom did we all see the same streak of light. The average time that a meteor is visible to the naked eye is less than half a second. By the time someone would see a meteor and point in the direction it would no longer be visible. Scientists have studied reaction times and determined that a meteor needs to last close to a second for someone to be able to point it out to another person. There were a few falling stars that were so bright and lasted long enough that all four of us were able to see it.

Sitting out under the stars and watching the sky was a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. I enjoyed the experience, and it left me feeling peaceful. My life has been very stressful lately and watching the meteor shower was a great way to de-stress.

Watching a meteor shower hasn’t always been a way to lessen stress. In ancient times, people were very superstitious about unusual objects in the night sky. Throughout recorded history, people have watched the night sky, and celestial phenomena like meteor showers brought about responses ranging from curiosity to hysteria. Meteor showers were something very strange and terrifying to our ancestors. There have even been times when a meteor shower scared everyone, causing people to be terrified, believing they were sent from the angry gods. They believed that meteors were signs of future wars, diseases, famines, and hardship.

Today it is easy for us to think that people in times past were crazy for worrying about such things. Modern educated people would never worry about such silly things. But we do worry. You would think that Christians would be exempt from worry, but we are not. Sometimes we wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in Philippians 4:6 (NCV) “do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.”

Did Paul mean that a Christian has no worries? If he did, then every Christian knows that they don’t measure up to Paul’s standard. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense, which puts a bit of a different meaning to his statement, “do not worry about anything.” The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but what we do about it is what matters. God doesn’t want us to be in a perpetual state of worry. Could you use some peace and calm in your life? We all could use some peace, and God is ready to give it. He says, “do not worry about anything, but pray and ask Me for everything you need, always giving thanks.”

Whenever you go outside at night and look up at the stars, remember that they are a reminder of the power and greatness of God. Isaiah 40:26 (NLT) tells us to, “look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

Gentle Reader, God wants to give you peace. He wants to take your anxieties and worries from you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) tells us to “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” If we give our worries and cares to God, He has promised to give us peace. “God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (GW)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best of 2017

2017 is almost over.  Here is a list of the top ten most viewed posts of 2017 on An Arkies Musings.  It is always interesting to me to see what topics other people are interested in.

The most viewed post of 2017 is one titled Barn Find. In the late 70’s and early 80’s building kit cars on a VW chassis was very popular. In 1981 Daddy purchased a complete MG replica kit from MIGI. He spent many hours building the car. At about the same time he was building the MG, he built an addition to the side of his shop. When he completed the addition, the first thing that he stored in the new building was the recently completed MG replica. The little MG has never moved from that spot until just a couple of weeks ago. The post. Barn Find tells the story of the little MG. You can read it here.

The second most viewed post of the year was written about our cat. Saving Moses tells the story of how we became the owner of a cat. You can read the story here.

In January my wife and I saw Shreveport, Louisiana native Dylan LeBlanc in concert at South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas. My blog post about the concert was the third most viewed of the year. You can read it here.

Number four on the top ten list of 2017 is one of my An Arkie's Faith newspaper columns. The title of the post is Free Gift, and it tells about our experience ant the Shreveport Krewe of Highland Mardi Gras Parade. You can read the post here.

A story about my granddaughters trip to Boston was the fifth most popular post of the year. She was snowbound in Boston for several days before she was able to fly back home. You can read the post here.

The story of my wife's great great grandmother, Sophie was the sixth most read post of 2017. In researching the story I found that during the summer of 1853, a cholera epidemic struck Gentofte, the area of Denmark where Sophie and her husband Peter lived. Peter became ill and died on August 8, 1853, leaving Sophie a widow at age twenty-nine with four small children. At the time of Peter's death, Sophie was not aware that she carried her and Peter's last child. Baby Otto was born eight months and eighteen days after Peter died. Baby Otto was my wife’s great-grandfather. He was conceived just a short while before his father died. That is how close my wife, who is my best friend and soulmate, came to never having a chance to be born. You can read about Sophie's Journey here.

In April. My wife and I attended a cocert by the incredible mandolin player, Sierra Hull. We enjoyed the concert more than we could have ever imagined. Sierra and bassist Ethan Jodziewicz are simply the best at their instruments. Even though they both are virtuoso's on their instruments, the mandolin and the bass, the live show takes on a minimalist approach. Being in the audience felt more like sitting in a living room listening to friends play music for you than being at a concert. My post about the Sierra Hull concert was number seven for the year. You can read it here. 

The subject of the eighth most popular post of the year was my Grandpa Lawry. Before he died my Uncle Lloyd Lawry put together a collection of stories and family history. I was blessed to have been given a copy of his collection. This post was the story he wrote about his Grandpa Lawry. You can read it here.

Post number nine was "My Daddy" which was my Father's Day tribute to my Daddy. You can read it here.

The tenth most popular post of 2016 was the history of the Studebaker XUV. There were plans to reintroduce the Studebaker nameplate in 2004. The Avanti Motor Corporation acquired the rights to use the Studebaker name on a large luxury sport utility vehicle, the XUV. The Studebaker XUV was introduced to the public at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 13, 2003. You can read the post here.

As a bonus I'm including one of my favorite posts of the year even though it didn't quite make the top ten. When we visited Hawaii, I was intrigued with the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. The Na Pali Coast is a seventeen-mile road-less expanse along Kauai’s North Shore. It is an area filled with dramatic cliff faces, pristine beaches, and incredible beauty. You can read about my experince on the trail here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Good Gifts

My An Arkie's Faith column from the December 27, 2017, issue of The Mena Star

During the Christmas season, we focus on giving good gifts. We spend a lot of money and time finding the right gifts for people that are important in our life. Did you give any great gifts this year? Was there a particular gift that you were especially excited about? Sometimes we fail in our gift giving. Did you have any fails this year?

One Christmas when my son was a young boy, we nearly ruined his Christmas with one of his gifts. One of his jobs was sweeping the kitchen floor. That Christmas we bought a stick vacuum cleaner and thought it would be funny to give to him as a gift. The vacuum, wrapped in beautiful paper, was the largest gift under the tree. When my son saw that the largest gift had his name on it, he was very excited. His imagination went wild. What could that present be? His whole Christmas revolved around the largest gift under the tree and speculating on what it could be.

When Christmas morning arrived, all he could think about was that gift. When he opened it, he was so disappointed that the rest of his Christmas presents couldn't make up for the vacuum cleaner fiasco.

Have you ever been disappointed by a gift? Has someone been disappointed by the gift you gave them? What about great gifts? What is the best gift you have ever received? What made it so special? Was it the value of the gift? Was it the person who gave it to you?

What is the best gift you received this Christmas? What is the best gift you ever received? As I think about this question, I find it hard to narrow down one particular gift as the best. There is a gift that I received that is very special to me even though the dollar value of the gift is not very high. Let me tell you the story.

In February 2004, my family and I went on a mission trip to San Pedro, Belize to help build a church. While we were there, we made lots of friends. The next year we made plans to go back to San Pedro.
Our return trip to Belize was wonderful. We got reacquainted with friends that we had made the year before, and made many new friends during the ten days that we were there. Many times friends would stop by our room with gifts such as fresh coconut water, papaya, or some small trinket. On the last day that we were in San Pedro, there was a steady stream of visitors to our room. They wanted to tell us goodbye. Many of them brought a small gift.

We received one gift that was very special to me. My wife made a special friendship with a little two-year-old boy who spoke only Spanish. Whenever he would see her, his face would light up. He didn’t understand English, but he understood the language of love. The day we were leaving he and his four-year-old sister came to our door with a gift. They gave us a well worn 1941 Walking Liberty half-dollar. I have no idea how this little family had come into possession of this coin, or why they gave it to me. Even though the monetary value of the coin is only a few dollars, it is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received.

I learned an important spiritual lesson on my trip to Belize. I learned it from the people that I met. They had such a desire to do something for us. Even though they had only meager possessions, they had such a desire to please. They wanted to see us before we left. They wanted to bring us a gift. It was very important to them. I saw a great object lesson in the way they treated me. It showed me how I should relate to God. I should come to God and say, “I don’t have much, but I want to give you something.” “God let me know what I can do to please you.” “God, I want to be with you.”

Gentle Reader, I know that you gave and received some good gifts this Christmas season. Jesus knows that too. In Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV) Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

God is the ultimate giver of good gifts. No matter how awesome the best gift you opened this Christmas is, it can’t compare to the gift of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. In Romans 6:23 (KJV) the Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has given you the best gift ever; what will you give God?