We had a wonderful time on our cruise. We made it back home Sunday evening. I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post anything. We are leaving Thursday morning to go see the grandkids and have Christmas with them.
Here are a couple of photos that we had taken on the ship. I haven't had time to go through my photos yet.
GINA AND I ON FORMAL DINNER NIGHT
Gavin enjoyed the karaoke the had on the ship. Here is a video of him singing Come Together.
When I was growing up, Peanuts was my favorite comic strip. I loved Charlie Brown and the gang. In this short clip, Charlie Brown asks, "isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about"? Linus has the answer.
Gina wrote a Christmas letter to include in our Christmas cards. I thought I would share it with you.
Dear Family and Friends,
It’s that time of year when we bring you up to date on what’s been going on in our neck of the woods. This year has flown by so I’m sure that we have been busy, but the year has pretty much been uneventful.
STEVE, BERTA AND I IN THE BELIZIAN JUNGLE
In March we returned to Belize with Berta and Steve. We had a wonderful time once we got there. A snow storm in Dallas delayed us one day, then thunderstorms in Belize delayed us another. If you are going to be stranded in an airport for 24 hours the newly remodeled Dallas Airport is a good one. We just made an adventure of it and had a good time. We had a great time snorkeling, fishing and visiting with church members in Belize. The day we left they had another storm in Dallas, so we had to fly home via Miami. Then the next day we flew from Miami to Atlanta to Dallas. There is nothing like taking the scenic route.
GAVIN AND RACHEL
Gavin graduated from Southwestern Adventist University in May with a degree in Radio, Television and Film. This year he is back at Southwestern working on getting a teaching certificate. He is dating a young lady named Rachel, who we love.
REBEKAH TURNS ONE
Autumn and Rebekah celebrated there birthdays in October. Autumn turned three and Rebekah had her first birthday. There is nothing in this world better than being Grandparents.
AUTUMN BLOWS OUT HER CANDLES
David is still teaching at a technical college in the Baton Rouge area and Cynda is working at a nursing home as a speech pathologist and rehab director. They really have there hands full with work and those two little girls.
THE GRANT FAMILY EXPERIENCES SNOW
Richie and I keep busy as usual with work and the church. I’m also volunteering at the hospital one day a week to keep me out of trouble. I really enjoy it.
GINA AND I
This year we are skipping Christmas. Richie, Gavin and I along with Richie’s folks are going on a cruise for Christmas. Cynda, David and the girls will be spending Christmas with the Grant Family so……..we decided to skip it in Cozemel, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
We leave December 20th and return home the 28th. So while you are sitting under your Christmas tree think of us sitting under a palm tree. We’ll be thinking of you.
Last year we had a wonderful Christmas. Everyone was home for Christmas, my kids and grandkids, my sisters and their families. There were over twenty of us for Christmas.
LILLIE AND AUTUMN CHRISTMAS 2007
We had a wonderful time visiting. It had been a long time since we had all been together. It was very busy and a bit chaotic.
PHOTO BY JEANNIE AMOS
This year no one is coming for Christmas. Gina and Mom got together and decided that since no one was coming for Christmas, we should go on a cruise. By September we were booked on a Caribbean Cruise over the week of Christmas. The cruise leaves from Galveston, Texas, and stops at Grand Caymen, Cozymel, Mexico, and Montego Bay in Jamaica.
We are not quite as serious about it as Luther was in the movie, Christmas with the Kranks, but we have not decorated or even put up a tree this year. If anyone decides that they are coming home for Christmas, we won't be here.
We will be in Jamaica soaking up the warmth of the sun.
For the last few days we have been having ice. Sunday the temperature was in the 60's and it was rainy. Late in the evening the temperature dropped tremendously. By morning there was a coat of ice on everything. It rained off and on all day Monday, and the temperature remained below freezing. By Tuesday morning there was 3/8 inch of ice on the car. I had to run the car for 25 minutes before the ice on the windshield loosened enough for me to be able to scrape a hole to see out of.
I never had my camera with me, so I was never able to get any pictures. It was dreary and rainy, so I don't know if I could have gotten any good pictures. Last night late I went out on my back porch and took these shots. I hope no one was planning on sitting in this chair.
Today it warmed up into the mid thirties and started melting some, but there is still plenty of ice around. I will be glad when it is gone. Ice, ice, baby too cold ice, ice, baby.
V is for View. I really thought long and hard on the "V" post. View seemed like it was a bit weak, but couldn't think of anything else. Let's start with the view from the house I grew up in. For several years we lived in a house just outside of Erie, Colorado. Our house sat on a little rise, and we had a great view of the Front Range. A couple of years ago I visited the old place and took this picture of the view.
VIEW FROM MY CHILDHOOD HOME IN ERIE, COLORADO
When I was a boy, I would spend a week every summer at Glacier View Ranch. I always had a good time at summer camp. The last time I was in Colorado, I made a return visit to Glacier View. I hadn't been there since I was a boy. I was surprised by how much things looked the same. The view from the parking lot was just as I remembered it.
VIEW FROM GLACIER VIEW RANCH
One of the most beautiful views I have ever seen is the view from my brother-in-law Duane's cabin. It is located above Leadville, Colorado and the surroundings are beautiful. The view from Duane's cabin is as pretty as any view in the area.
VIEW FROM DUANE'S CABIN IN LEADVILLE, COLORADO
One of my favorite views is the view of my backyard. Each season has a special beauty. there are dogwoods and redbuds in the spring. In the summer the trees have so many leaves that you can't tell I live in town. I believe that it is the most beautiful in the fall. Here is a view of my backyard in the fall. Duane built the table and benches out of granite slabs.
VIEW OF MY BACKYARD IN THE FALL
The Talimena Scenic Drive has some of the most beautiful views in Arkansas. We are very blessed to have such beautiful views so close. Here are a couple of views from the Talimena Drive.
VIEW FROM GRAND VIEW VISTA
WINTER VIEW FROM THE TALIMENA SCENIC DRIVE
One of the most amazing views I have seen in Arkansas, is the view from The Lodge At Mount Magazine. Mount Magazine State park is the highest point in Arkansas. The lodge and the grounds surrounding it have breathtaking views. The great room has large windows that look out from the highest point in Arkansas.
VIEW FROM THE LODGE AT MOUNT MAGAZINE
I saved my favorite view for last. Gina and I love to visit Belize. Our favorite place is San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The last two times we have visited San Pedro, we have stayed at the SunBreeze Hotel right on the beach. The view from our room was beautiful. Right now we are having freezing rain and sleet here in Arkansas. I wish I was in Belize with this view.
VIEW FROM THE SUNBREEZE HOTEL IN SAN PEDRO, BELIZE
This week my wife Gina came across the legend of the candy cane. Legend is an old English word meaning "probably not true". Even so I enjoyed reading about the legend.
The legend says that there was a time in Europe when any public display of Christianity was forbidden. No crosses or Bibles were allowed. One old man, a candy maker by profession, was very upset by this. He loved God and couldn't stand to not share that love with others. He prayed for God to show him some way to make Christmas gifts for the children which would teach them the story of Christ.
His answer was the candy cane. The candy cane was in the shape of a shepherd’s staff to show them that Jesus is our Shepherd and we are His flock. Upside down the candy cane was a "J", the first letter of Jesus' name. It was made of hard candy to remind us that Christ is the rock of our salvation. The wide red stripes on the candy cane were to represent the blood He shed on the cross for each one of us so that we can have eternal life through Him. The three narrow red stripes on the candy canes symbolized that by His stripes, or wounds, we are healed.
The flavoring in the candy cane was peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is of the mint family and was used in Old Testament times for purification and sacrifice just as Jesus sacrificed His life for ours. The old candy maker told the children that when we break our candy cane it reminds us that Jesus' body was broken for us. If we share our candy cane and give some to someone else in love, it represents the love of Jesus. God gave Himself to us when He sent Jesus. He loved us so much He wants us to spend eternity with Him.
This story of the candy cane is just a legend. We do not know for sure exactly how the candy cane was invented, but it is an excellent picture of Christ and His love for you. Think about it the next time you enjoy a candy cane. And who doesn't enjoy a good candy cane?
This sunset photo was taken from the Grand View Vista on the Talimena Scenic Drive that runs from Mena, Arkansas to Talihina, Oklahoma. This vista is one of my favorite places. I don't get here for a sunset opportunity very often. Even though it is less than ten miles from my house, it is hard to get here at the right time.
Today, Cynda sent us some pictures of the snowfall in Baton Rouge. The snowfall was a pretty big deal in South Louisiana. Cynda went in to work late so she could spend time with the girls in the snow.
THE GRANT FAMILY AND THEIR SNOWMEN
Autumn loved playing in the snow. She made snow angels and threw snowballs. Her favorite thing to watch on TV is Frosty The Snowman. It is recorded on the DVR, and she wants to watch it all the time. She was so excited to get to make a snowman.
AUTUMN LOVES THE SNOW
Rebekah on the other hand was not so excited. She didn't like the snow. She didn't like being cold. She is definitely Grandpa's girl. I agree Rebekah, I don't like being cold and wet. I get pretty grumpy, but I usually don't cry.
REBEKAH HATES THE SNOW
Sally loved playing in the snow. She loves water, and snow is just a form of water. What could be better than the whole family outside with you.
SALLY IN THE SNOW
Who knows how long it will be before it snows in Baton Rouge again. Maybe another 20 years. I wonder of Autumn will still love the snow in 20 years. Will it still make Rebekah cry? Remember, one person's dream is another's nightmare.
This morning I was laying in bed in the blissful state of almost awake but not quite. I new that it was just about time to get up, but I was enjoying the warm blanket and soft bed. As I was trying to get the courage to leave the warm comfy nest, I was jarred completely awake by the phone.
Cynda was on the phone, calling from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, very excited because it was snowing. School had been canceled. I could hear my granddaughter in the background squealing with delight. It was the first snowfall with accumulation in the area since the late 1980's. 20 years without a snowfall. Can you imagine that.
NEW ORLEANS STREETCAR IN THE SNOW, DECEMBER 11,2008
I have to confess that I hate snow. I dislike cold weather and all things associated with it. I can see the beauty of snow, but I really dislike having to work in it. I think that having to work in the cold is the reason I hate it so much. Fortunately we do not have very much cold weather here in Arkansas.
SEVEN INCHES OF SNOW IN MENA MARCH 4,2008
We usually have at least one good snowfall each year. It has snowed once this fall, but there was no accumulation. We did have a seven inch snowfall in March of this year. It would be fine with me if we didn't have another snowfall this year.
It is interesting that the same thing can bring about such different responses in people. What causes one person to squeal with delight, causes another, me, to grumble and be grumpy all day.
On December 31, 2001, we had a light snowfall here in Mena. It was Cynda and Dave's wedding day. When the ceremony was over and Cynda and Dave walked out of the sanctuary a married couple, I heard Cynda squeal with delight when she reached the foyer of the church. Through the glass doors to the church she could see snow falling. It was just a light dusting of snow, but it was beautiful. Daddy's 1941 Packard, that would take the newlyweds to the reception, looked beautiful with a light blanket of snow covering it. To Cynda, the snowfall was like frosting on an already perfect day.
WEDDING DAY SNOW
I try to think of pleasant memories like that one when I get up in the morning and it looks like a dismal winter day. One person's dream is another's nightmare.
This week U is for Unicorn. While driving through the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas we came across this guy with a broken horn. He reminded me of a unicorn. Some scholars believe that the sightings of one horned animals like this produced the myth of the unicorn.
Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of the unicorn, which they believed lived in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them. During the Middle Ages the people of Europe did not consider the unicorn a myth. The King James Version of the Bible uses the word unicorn 8 times. Unicorn horns were often found in cabinets of curiosities in Medieval and Renaissance Europe.
They were most often examples of the distinctive straight spiral single tusk of the narwhal whale They were brought into Europe as a very valuable trade item, and sold as horns from the legendary unicorn; being of ivory, they passed the various tests intended to spot fake unicorn horns. As these 'horns' were considered to have magic powers, Vikings and other northern traders were able to sell them for many times their weight in gold. Elizabeth I of England kept a "unicorn horn" in her cabinet of curiosities.
In 1967 when I was just starting to pay attention to the radio, The Irish Rovers had a top 40 hit with "The Unicorn. Here is a cover version I found on YouTube.
Here are the lyrics to The Unicorn
A long time ago, when the Earth was green There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen They'd run around free while the Earth was being born And the loveliest of all was the unicorn
There was green alligators and long-necked geese Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born The loveliest of all was the unicorn
The Lord seen some sinning and it gave Him pain And He says, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain" He says, "Hey Noah, I'll tell you what to do Build me a floating zoo, and take some of those...
Green alligators and long-necked geese Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born Don't you forget My unicorns
Old Noah was there to answer the call He finished up making the ark just as the rain started to fall He marched the animals two by two And he called out as they came through Hey Lord,
I've got green alligators and long-necked geese Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn I just can't find no unicorns"
And Noah looked out through the driving rain Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games Kicking and splashing while the rain was falling Oh, them silly unicorns
There was green alligators and long-necked geese Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees Noah cried, "Close the door because the rain is falling And we just can't wait for no unicorns"
The ark started moving, it drifted with the tide The unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried And the waters came down and sort of floated them away That's why you never see unicorns to this very day
You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born You're never gonna see no unicorns
Click on the photo above to purchase my latest book, In the Fog, for $5.99. The Kindle version is only $2.99.
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.