It has been a hectic week working for Relay For Life. Gina has been working almost nonstop this week on Relay Sponsorships and team recruitment. The deadline to get signed up on a team is March 1st. We want to get as many people signed up as possible. The Relay event is not until April 17, but we have a deadline to sign up so that we can get the t-shirts printed in time. As of February 27 we have 25 teams that have signed up with over 250 participants. We are still hoping for a few more teams to sign up this weekend.
Fundraising has started in earnest. A number of teams will be having drawings at the Relay. Around town you can contribute to Relay For Life, and have a chance to win a Wii, A 32" LCD HDTV, A rifle, A deer stand, a BBQ smoker, or a tent. There is a most beautiful baby contest, bake sales, breakfasts, people going door to door, and even nursing home residents raising money for Relay For Life. Even in these tough economic times, I have seen that most people are still willing to contribute to worthy causes. Gina likes to tell people "I know times are hard, but having cancer is harder".
If you are not aware of what Relay For Life is; Relay For Life is a fun-filled, overnight event that empowers everyone to help fight cancer by raising money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission. Teams of people camp out at local high schools, parks, or fairgrounds and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Relay For Life symbolizes the hope that people lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face the disease have support, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. Check out Relay For Life in your area. You can find an event near you by going here an putting in your zip code.
This is my entry in a neat meme called I Heart Faces. Click on this button to check it out
The theme for this weeks I love faces contest is Black and White.
I took this photo at a friends barn. The natural light lit this young girl's face and left the interior of the barn dark. I thought that the dark background made the whole photo a good candidate for black and white.
This is a shot of my friend Richie Owens playing at Big Bear's Saturday Night Opry. I like the Black and White treatment. It reminds me of early Rock and Roll photos.
James Marshal Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington, on November 27, 1942; an American of African, European, Cherokee Indian and Mexican descent. An unsettled home environment made Jimi spend much of his early years living with his grandmother, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, in Canada.
His mother died when Jimi was 15, about the same time that Jimi began to take a serious interest in music and playing the guitar. When he was 12 he got his first electric guitar - the instrument which shaped the rest of his life.
Jimi Hendrix is considered by many to be the most influential and talented electric guitarist in history. He achieved worldwide fame in 1967 playing at the Monterey Pop Festival, then headlined at Woodstock in 1969. Hendrix is widely known for and associated with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, most notably LSD. Various forms of sleeping pills and speed fueled his "stop and go" lifestyle throughout his career.
The most controversial topic however, concerns his alleged abuse of heroin. The Hendrix family, along with a portion of his friends and biographers, emphatically maintains that Jimi was never a heroin user. An equally strong number of associates and writers, including former band mate Noel Redding, insist that he did use heroin.
Jimi's life was cut short at the age of 27. In the days that lead up to his death witnesses said that he was obviously high on drugs and he had a lot of cannabis on him. He was in a terrible state, highly nervous. He spent Wednesday, September 17, 1970 looking for drugs, while visiting houses around London.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in the basement flat of the Samarkand Hotel in London. Hendrix died amid circumstances which have never been fully explained, and the exact details of his death will probably never be confirmed. He had spent the night with his German girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, and likely died in bed after drinking wine and taking nine Vesperax sleeping pills, then drowning in his own vomit.
What a sad story. What a terrible waste of a young mans life. He had rocketed to stardom in 1967 with the release of his first album "Are You Experienced". In the title song he sang “Are You Experienced”? “Ah! Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have”. Young hip listeners at that time new what he was asking when he sang “Are you experienced. Ah! Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have”. They knew that he was asking if the had used drugs.
I am asking you today, Are you experienced? You don't have to answer that. But really I want to ask you are you experienced? I'm not Jimi Hendrix. So I'm not asking about drugs. But I do want to ask you are you experienced? Have you experienced the grace and love of God? I can only hope that you have.
I know that I have received one gracious blessing after another. The greatest blessing is found in Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". What a blessing. I know that God loves me because while I was still a sinner Jesus died for me.
In Ephesians 1:7,8 Paul writes "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding.”
God's grace is a wonderful gift to humankind. Grace is God's love freely offered to us. We do not do anything to "earn" it. I hope that you take time each day to reflect upon how you have experienced God's grace in your life.
SUNSET ON RICH MOUNTAIN NEAR MENA, ARKANSAS
I have experienced so much of God's love and grace in my life. I have so many things to be thankful for. I am thankful that Jesus died for me, and that he has promised in 1 John 1:9 that if I confess my sins he is faithful to forgive my sins. I am thankful that I have such easy access to God’s word, The Bible. I am thankful that I was born into a Christian family. I am thankful that I live in the USA; that I have a wonderful spouse who loves God, and that I have been blessed with loving children and grandchildren. I am thankful that I am able to live in a rural area. What a blessing it is to live in Mena, Arkansas. You can see that from God’s abundance I have received one gracious blessing after another.
What about you? Have you experienced God's love and Grace? Are you experienced?
This is my entry in a neat meme called I Heart Faces. Click on this button to check it out
The theme for this weeks I love faces contest is wonder.
AUTUMN IS AMAZED
When her sister Rebekah was born, Autumn and I spent a lot of time walking in the hospital. She liked to walk from her Momma's room out to the elevators. Next to the elevators there was a big picture window with a ledge big enough for her to sit on. She loved to be able to look out of the window and watch the world go by from such a high vantage point. This picture was taken while she was looking out of the window.
This weekend we made a fast trip to Southern Louisiana for Mardi Gras. We actually went to see our grand-daughters, but it sounds more exciting to some people to say that we went for Mardi Gras.
Each year we try to get to Louisiana during Mardi Gras time to see a couple of parades. It is always interesting to see the reactions of people when you tell them you are going to Mardi Gras.
Due to the way the news media has focused on the activities of those who "visit" and go the French Quarter "after" the parades, all many think about when they hear the words "Mardi Gras" are activities occurring in the French Quarter; i.e., flashing women, drunks, and crowd surges!
MARDI GRAS PRINCESS WITH HER THROWS
This is not Mardi Gras. It has nothing to do with most Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, sleaze makes news, so every news camera visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras heads for the spring break crowd on Bourbon Street, and does not give adequate coverage to the majority of the parades which are family oriented.
MARCHING BAND AT MARDI GRAS PARADE
We attended the Carrollton Parade and the King Arthur Parade. The Carrollton Parade has been running since 1924 and is one of the most popular parades of the Mardi Gras season. The King Arthur Parade has been running since 1977, and is an afternoon parade on the first Sunday of Mardi Gras, commonly known as "family Sunday". The parade routes of these parades are lined with families. Many people have step ladders with boxes built on top of them for small children to sit in so they can see over the heads of others, and have a chance to catch the throws from the floats.
REBEKAH IS GIVEN A FLOWER FROM A MARDI GRAS FLOAT
The tradition of throwing of trinkets to the crowds was started in the early 1870s and is a time-honored expectation for young and old alike. You go to a Mardi Gras parade to try and get as many "throws" as possible. Popular throws include cups, beads, doubloons, and stuffed animals. We came home with a trash bag full of beads. Autumn and Rebekah got many stuffed animals. The favorite thing the girls got was a large plastic blow up hammer. Rebekah carried it all the way back to the car after the parade was over.
AUTUMN WITH THE HAMMER SHE RECEIVED AT MARDI GRAS
REBEKAH GETS TO HOLD THE HAMMER
We had a great time at the parades. Rebekah and Autumn really enjoyed themselves. Rebekah liked the beads, but would not keep them around her neck. I guess she didn't like the way they felt. When Autumn was her age, she wanted all the beads around her neck. She put so many beads on that she fell over from the weight.
REBEKAH AND AUTUMN AT MARDI GRAS
AUTUMN WITH MARDI GRAS BEADS AND STUFFED TOY
After watching two parades we were all tired and hungry. We stopped in Metarie and ate at Zea Rotisserie Grille. We had a wonderful meal and a very enjoyable time. The restaurant won't be forgetting our party anytime soon.
I have attended my first Chamber of Commerce Banquet. The Mena Chamber of Commerce put on a very nice banquet at the old historic armory building. There were a large number in attendance, many more than in the past. The meal was catered by a new Italian restaurant here in town called Spinelli's. The food was great, but they were a bit slow because of the large attendance. We were at County Judge Stanley's table with him and his wife Vicki and our good friends Lisa and Dalton Doughty. We had a great time visiting and laughing. Who knew a banquet could be so much fun.
GINA WITH HER FRIENDS VICKI AND LISA
I had mentioned going to the banquet a month ago, but Gina wasn't that excited about it. "Why do you want to go", she asked. I couldn't tell her the real reason. The Chamber had let me know that Gina was going to be receiving an award from the Governor, but they wanted it to be a surprise. She finally said she would go to the banquet if I wanted to. When they were presenting different awards, Gina was talking with her friends and not listening that closely. When they called out her name, her jaw dropped and she sat there for a moment in disbelief. After a bit of a nudge, she went forward and received her award from Senator Larry Teague.
Gina's letter from Governor Mike Beebe reads:
It is my pleasure to commend you as you are recognized for dedicated volunteer service to the Mena-Polk County Chamber of Commerce. Community service is not only noble, but it is also necessary. Individuals who lend a hand through volunteer efforts help to bridge the gap between what society needs and what it can afford.
I hope that you will continue to be committed to improving the lives of others and to changing your part of Arkansas. By giving your time and talent, you have made a lasting contribution. Your energy and your generosity will make our state a better place for all of us.
Sincerely, Mike Beebe
To say that Gina was surprised and excited would be an understatement. It was fun to be able to surprise her.
I have been sick for almost a week now. I'm starting to feel some better, but I'm not back to normal yet. (I know many will say I have never been normal.) I started coming down with a cold and a terrible cough last Friday, and by Sunday morning I was running a fever and aching all over. Gina has been sick a couple of times recently, but I though I had bit the bullet and made it through cold and flu season without getting sick. Boy was I wrong. As the old saying goes, At first I was afraid I was going to die, and then I was afraid I wasn't.
The last couple of days Gina has finally gotten back to feeling like herself again after her bouts with the flu. I hope I get to feeling like a new man soon. I'm sure tired of feeling like this old man who is sick. Here's to becoming a new man. I'm sure Gina is tired of this old whiny one.
Being sick got me to thinking about how illness parallels our human nature. We are sick spiritually, and God wants to heal us so we won't be sick with sin. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" We have all heard the term “Born Again” to describe the new life. It is probably one of the most common phrases in the Christian vocabulary. What is a "Born Again" Christian?
In 1 Peter 1:23, the Bible tells us, "you have been born again. This new life did not come from something that dies, but from something that cannot die. You were born again through God’s living message that continues forever". To be "Born Again" means to have a new life.
There is a law of life that states, "everything that is new eventually becomes old". That law has been painfully brought to my attention over the last couple of weeks as I have been going through lots of old pictures to post on my Facebook page. I recently read an appropriate quote, "youth is a disease from which we all recover". I am recovering nicely, thank you very much.
The next time you are in a big parking lot such as at the mall or at Wal-Mart take a look at the cars. There are some nice new cars. There are some that are in need of some body work. There are a number of old work vehicles. Here in rural Arkansas, there are lots of beat up pick up trucks in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Every car in the parking lot was once a new car. My Daddy has lots of antique cars. They all have something in common. Whether they are nicely restored or are nothing but a rusted out hulk, they were all once new.
DADDY'S 1940 BUICK LIMITED
What happens when the new wears off of our "Born Again" experience? What happens when our new life isn’t so new anymore? We get in a rut. When we are in a rut, and are just going through the motions, don’t you think God notices?
All of us have a comfort zone in our life. To get out of the rut, we have to move outside of our comfort zone.
How do we get outside of our comfort zone? Here is a list of ideas that I came up with. Everything on the list may not be for you, but maybe it will help you get some ideas how to get out of your comfort zone, and get out of the rut. Maybe they will help your new life to actually be new again.
1. Expand your circle of friends 2. Study a subject you haven’t studied 3. Examine your core beliefs 4. Listen more and talk less 5. Try doing something that you have been afraid to do 6. Eat between meals - spiritually - don’t let religion be rote 7. Make your own list 8. Don’t be afraid of other religious viewpoints – truth withstands 9. Don't worry about what other Christians are doing 10. Hug somebody 11. Go on a mission trip 12. Don’t be afraid to express yourself 13. Be very gentle when you express yourself 14. Tell people you love them 15. Loosen up, don’t be rigid 16. Affirm a leader 17. Smile, be happy 18. Read a version of the Bible you haven’t read before 19. Visit another country or culture 20. Change the order you do things 21. Help somebody who isn’t expecting it 22. Don’t be afraid of change – it isn’t inherently evil 23. Call someone you haven’t called for a long time 24. If someone invites you to their church--- GO 25. Learn a new song. Buy a new CD 26. Be more gracious 27. Visit someone you have never visited before 28. Read a Christian book you haven’t read before 29. Take time to do something you really enjoy 30. Give a totally unexpected gift to someone 31. Ask for other peoples opinions 32. Volunteer to tell the childrens story 33. Pray instead of being critical 34. Let go of resentment 35. Shake up your prayer life. Pray at different times or ways 36. Say thank you more often 37. If you see your devotions are in a rut shake them up 38. Sit somewhere different in church 39. Intentionally use different phrases when you pray 40. Never forget what Jesus has done for you
Let’s resolve to get out of our comfort zone. Ask God every day for a new life.
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.