Today, Gina was given the Volunteer Of The Year Award at the annual Rotary Club banquet. About a month ago we were invited to attend the banquet. I knew that Gina was going to receive the award, but they asked that I keep it a secret from Gina. It was a nice surprise.
The banquet was held at Mena Mountain Resort. I had not been to the Resort before today, and I was very impressed. Mena Mountain Resort is one of the best-kept secrets in Western Arkansas, their brand-new facility offers the type of fine amenities you would only expect to find in a luxury resort. It's not the kind of thing we have ever seen before in Mena. Construction began in January 2006 and was completed in the spring of 2009. The resort consists of a total of 15 guest suites, a clubhouse, pavilion and pool. Also on the property is a 3 bedroom cottage with full kitchen, large living area, and a private fenced yard. Here is a view of the balcony from one of the suites.
After a very nice meal provided by the resort, The yearly awards were given out. Each year the Rotary club honors a Volunteer of the Year, a Citizen of the Year, and a Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Gina was honored for her work with Relay For Life.
Back in March Gina was asked to give a talk to the Rotary Club about Relay For Life. She had to be out of town that day, so I gave the talk. The club members were very receptive. You can read about it here. While Gina was at the banquet today she did some recruiting for Relay For Life. It is amazing how much work it can be to put on an 18 hour event. I am so proud that Gina is passionate about helping others. That is just one of the reasons that I love her. Congratulations Gina on your Volunteer of the Year Award!!
It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "B". B is for Belize. My favorite place to visit is Belize. Belize is a small country in Central America. Gina and I first went to Belize in 2004 with 15 members of our church to help build a church in San Pedro. Since then we have returned 3 times.
When we are visiting in Belize I love to get up early and watch the sun rise over the ocean. After watching and photographing the sunrise, I like to walk through the town and watch it come to life. Life is hard in Belize, but it's people are so vibrant and full of life. Every morning that I am there I spend a couple of hours just walking through the town and photographing what I see. I get off of the main street and see what the real community is like.
When I get back home I keep up with what is happening in Belize by listening to the LOVE-FM morning show. Each morning they would play the song "Good Mawnin Belize". I really like the song, and on a subsequent visit I was able to find a CD with the song on it. Here is a slideshow of pictures that I have taken in the mornings as San Pedro Belize comes to life.
Today a group of us from church visited the Cossatot River State Park. We had a great time. The weather was cool for summer, with just a little rain. When we arrived at the vistors center, Park Interpreter Shelley greated us, and spent the next few hours giving our group a special tour.
After watching a movie about the Cossatot River, Shelley showed us pelts and skulls of area animals. She then showed us the salamanders, lizards, and snakes that are kept at the visitor center. Kaitlyn and Trey really liked getting to handle the snakes.
After going through the visitor center, Park Interpreter Shelley took us to the river. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect. The kids enjoyed swimming and throwing rocks into the river.
The Cossatot River is Arkansas's premier whitewater experience and is known as the best whitewater float stream in mid-America. Located in southwest Arkansas south of Mena, the Cossatot forms Cossatot Falls, a rugged and rocky canyon that challenges the most experienced canoeists and kayakers. This National Wild and Scenic River is a watershed basin with flow levels dependent on rainfall. After significant precipitation, the river level rises, allowing experienced paddlers the opportunity to test their skills in challenging Class IV and V whitewater. At the river's Cossatot Falls area, a rocky canyon with distinct ledges, the river drops 33 feet in elevation within 1/3 of a mile. Late winter to early spring is peak whitewater paddling season here. Even if you are not a whitewater enthusiast, the hiking and scenery are spectacular.
I have known Park Interpreter Shelley since she was a little girl, and it was great to get to spend a few hours with her and spend some time remembering the past. She really made the day special for all of us.
Several years ago my wife Regina decided to have Lasik eye surgery. After doing a lot of research and talking to people who had the procedure done she was comfortable with the idea of someone cutting on her eyes to improve her vision.
LASIK is a surgical procedure that can reduce a person's dependency on glasses or contact lenses by permanently changing the shape of the cornea. For clear vision, the eye's cornea and lens must bend light rays properly, so that images are focused on the retina. If the light rays aren't clearly focused on the retina, the images you see are blurry.
During LASIK, a special knife (a microkeratome) is used to cut a hinged flap of corneal tissue off the outer layer of the eyeball. The flap is lifted out of the way and the laser is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue.
Before the surgery, Gina had worn glasses since she was a teenager. She had to place her glasses in the same place every night, because she couldn't see well enough to find her glasses if they were misplaced. The LASIK surgery immediately improved her eyesight, and she was able to see without glasses the very next morning. What a wonderful blessing that was.
Her experience with LASIK eye surgery made me realize that most of us have a problem with our eyes. Most people suffer from "Impaired Spiritual Vision". Many cases are severe. Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, talked about people who suffered from severe "Impaired Spiritual Vision" in his day. "Those people don't know what they are doing. They don't understand! It is as if their eyes are covered so they can't see. Their minds don't understand." (Isaiah 44:18)
Is "Impaired Spiritual Vision" a dangerous condition? Before my wife had LASIK eye surgery she would never have driven a car without her glasses. Why was that? It's because she would have endangered herself, her passengers, and you if you happened to be on the road at the same time. It is just as dangerous to drive through life with "Impaired Spiritual Vision". Where can I go to get proper treatment? Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:18, "I advise you to buy from me gold made pure in fire so you can be truly rich. Buy from me white clothes so you can be clothed and so you can cover your shameful nakedness. Buy from me medicine to put on your eyes so you can truly see".
The only qualified eye doctor is Jesus himself. We are often tempted to see if another human being can help us with our "Impaired Spiritual Vision". Jesus warns us about that in Matthew 15: 14, "They are blind leaders. If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a ditch".
Spiritual leaders often have a hard time trying to help us. Even if they are sincerely trying to point us to Jesus, we often look only at them. Have you ever tried to show your dog something by pointing at it? The dog will look at your finger instead of what you are pointing at. It is often the same way with human beings. It is easier to look at people than to see the Jesus they are trying to point out to us.
How can we get Jesus to help correct our "Impaired Spiritual Vision"? I think that we find a clue in Psalms 119:16-18. "I will delight in your principles and not forget your word. Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law."
Jesus is the finest eye surgeon in the world. Ask him today to correct your spiritual vision so that you can live and obey his word, and delight in his principles
It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "A". We are starting a brand new round of ABC Wednesday. It is brand new to me, because I have been too busy for quite some time to participate.
A is for Autumn. Autumn has double meaning for me. I love to crisp cool weather and beautiful colors of Autumn, and my oldest granddaughter is named Autumn.
This summer while Autumn was visiting us with her sister Rebekah, we decided to dress them up nice and go to the park to take pictures. The idea of taking their pictures together didn't work out too well. This is the best one that I was able to get.
AUTUMN AND REBEKAH
I was able to get some better shots of the girls separately.
AUTUMN AT THE PARK
REBEKAH THE TREE HUGGING LIBERAL
Autumn is named after the season Autumn. Maybe if she had been born a couple of months later she would have been named Winter. I love Autumn because of the great photo opportunities it provides. I have always enjoyed photographing the Autumn colors. Here are some of my favorite shots.
FALL COLOR NEAR MENA,ARKANSAS
TREES ABLAZE WITH COLOR
ARKANSAS AUTUMN IN A MINI
It's been awhile since I have posted on ABC Wednesday, and it good to be back. It took a little prodding from Becky at Life With Kaishon, but I hope to be a consistent contributor.
This is my entry in a neat meme called I Heart Faces. Click on this button to check it out
The theme this week is focusing on "feet"...not "faces". This photo was taken in San Pedro, Belize on our last trip there. Bicycles are the main mode of transportation for kids and adults. This little girl was getting ready to get on her bike when I snapped this photo.
This photo was taken on the famous Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. As I was walking along the beach taking pictures I noticed this woman taking photos also. Her brightly colored cover up added interest to the beautiful sandy beach with fresh footprints on it.
When I was growing up I loved to make lists. I kept a list of the books that I had read from the Longmont Public Library. I kept a list of baseball players and their statistics. Each week I would make my own Top 40 list.
Do you make lists? What kind of lists do you make? Today your lists may be on your computer or your phone, but I bet you make lists. Lists keep us organized.
I recently read a story written by Christian author Max Lucado. On a plane he was seated next to an attractive young woman. The young woman was very nervous about flying, so he took out his Bible and read some reassuring passages. As they talked she told him that she was a believer once when she was young. Max asked her, “Do you believe in heaven? "Yeah." "Do you think you’ll go there?"
She looked away for a minute and then turned and answered confidently, "Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be in heaven." How do you know?"
"How do I know I’m going to heaven?" She grew quiet as she formulated her response. "Well, I’m basically good. I smoke less than a pack a day. I exercise. I’m dependable at work and," she counted each achievement on a finger, "I made my boyfriend get tested for AIDS."
That was her list. By her way of thinking, heaven could be earned by smoking less and safe sex. Her line of logic was simple: I keep the list on earth and I get the place in heaven.
Most of us are a lot like the woman on the plane. We feel that we are basically good. We are decent hard working people. We have a list that we feel qualifies us for heaven. Your list may not include cigarettes or AIDS, but I know you have a list. There is a purpose for the list: to prove we are good.
In Romans 3:20-22 Paul tells us, “No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.
Well, so much for lists. So much for being "basically good." If no one is good, if no list is sufficient, if no achievements are adequate, how can a person be saved? Wouldn’t you like to ask Jesus, “How can I be saved”? Jesus was asked that very question.
We find the story in Mark 10:17. “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
Isn’t that the question you would like to ask Jesus? It is very interesting that Jesus gave the man a list. In verse 19 Jesus answers, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
It seems that Jesus is saying that to have a list is OK. It seems like we should have a list. When the man told Jesus that he had done all of these things, Jesus said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” The story has a sad ending. The man was OK with keeping his list, but he was not willing to follow Jesus.
No matter how long or complete your list, there is always one more thing you need to do.
I recently read a story of a woman who for years was married to a harsh husband. Each day he would leave her a list of chores to complete before he returned at the end of the day. Clean the yard. Stack the firewood. Wash the windows. Sweep the floor. Bake the bread.
If she didn’t complete the tasks, she would be greeted with his explosive anger. But even if she did complete the list, he was never satisfied; he would always find inadequacies in her work.
After several years, the husband passed away. Sometime later she remarried, this time to a man who lavished her with tenderness and adoration.
One day, while going through a box of old papers, the wife discovered one of her first husband’s lists. And as she read the list, a realization caused a tear of joy to splash on the paper. "I’m still doing all these things, and my husband doesn’t have to tell me. I do it because I love him."
You can’t make a list long enough and complete enough to satisfy the requirements for eternal life, but Jesus hasn’t asked you to. All he wants is you; All of you. He wants you to be madly in love with him. Head over heels, do anything for him, in love with him.
In John 14:15 he tells us, “If you love Me, keep My commandments”. Not because that will guarantee us salvation, but because we are so much in love that we want to please Jesus. If we truly love Jesus, doing the things that will please him will not be a burden. They will be a joy.
I'm sure that you have heard the saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade". Last weekend I had the opportunity to make lemonade. Actually I had a wonderful weekend. Gina and I traveled to Columbia, Missouri to visit my sister and her family. We really enjoyed our time with family and appreciated the cooler weather.
We decided to go to the St. Louis Zoo even though the weather forecast was 80 to 90 percent chance of rain every hour. The weather cooperated, and we had only one short rain shower while we were at the zoo. It was cloudy and cool, just wonderful weather for walking around the zoo in the summertime.
The St. Louis Zoo is a great zoo, and admission is free. In 1910 the City of St. Louis set aside 77 acres in Forest Park for a zoo. State legislation provided that "the zoo shall be forever free," which has made the Zoo accessible to millions of visitors ever since.
I was excited about visiting the zoo and being able to take lots of pictures. Shortly after we arrived we were going through the "Flight Cage", a giant elliptical bird cage that dates back to the 1904 World's Fair held in St. Louis. As we were walking through looking at the birds I took this picture.
As soon as I took this photo, I accidentally dropped my camera. When I picked it up, the focus no longer worked. As I played with the camera, trying to get it working, I noticed that the camera came into focus if held extremely close to something. I stuck my camera close to a flower and took this photo.
Even though I was disturbed about breaking my camera, I wasn't going to let that keep me from taking photos. I would just have to "focus" on extreme close-ups. As I walked through the zoo I looked for close-up opportunities.
The thing that I found interesting was that my camera would not focus that close before I dropped it. I really liked my camera, but the one thing that I wasn't satisfied with was close ups. Now I have a close up only camera.
Because the focus was broken, I had to focus by physically moving the camera. The camera lens had to be almost touching the subject. Many of the photos I took were not quite in focus, but I enjoyed trying to get in focus shots.
I enjoyed my time taking photos at the St. Louis Zoo, even though they were not the photos that I set out to get. I missed those shots of the tigers who were so frisky in the cool weather, the cute penguins, and the sea lions; but I was forced to look at a world that I wouldn't have otherwise. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
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 An Arkie's Faith, using articles from the column.