Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

Pooh Wants To Travel

Pooh, my parents kitten, wanted to make sure she didn't get left behind. Pooh has been staying with us while my folks have been out of town. Pooh is such a curious kitty and always into everything. Since she is often getting into things she shouldn't we have nicknamed her Naughty Kitty. Even though she might be Naughty Kitty she is very sweet.

Wednesday morning started very early. The night before we had driven to Tulsa so we could catch an early flight to Denver. We got up at 4 so we could be at the airport by 5. By 7:30 we were on the ground in Denver. Gina's brother Duane picked us up at the airport and spent the day taking us down memory lane. We moved from this area 28 years ago and things have really changed. We had asked him to take us to places where we had lived and worked.

Our first stop was Erie. My family moved to Erie when I was 10 years old. When I was in High School my Dad moved his business to Erie. I took over the business when he moved. I operated it until 1981 when we moved to Arkansas. The building still looks much the same.

Tri Town Service

From Erie we drove to Longmont. I attended school at the Longmont SDA Elementary School from first though eighth grade. We never lived in Longmont, but did our shopping there. My favorite place was the Public Library. During the time I was in school I read just about every book in the kids section of the library. I still remember being dissapointed that I was only allowed to check out three books at a time. We took the time to drive by my old school and take a photo.

My Elementary School

I recently learned that the J.C. Penney store that we shopped at in Longmont was the very first J.C. Penney store. The name of The Golden Rule Store in Longmont, Colorado was changed to J. C. Penney Company when it was sold in 1912 to J. C. Penney. J.C.Penney was the Sam Walton of his day. By 1928 he had 1,000 stores and by 1941 he had stores in all 48 states. Sam Walton got his start in a Penneys store in Des Moines, Iowa. I can still remember shopping at the J.C. Penneys in Longmont.


From Longmont we traveled up Hwy 287 to Loveland. We stopped by Campion Academy where Gina and I went to High School. The campus looks pretty much the same. Our visit brought back lots of memories. I remembered that beautiful blonde that walked the halls and didn't know that I even existed. We both worked at Harris Pine Mills. I would go back to the area where she worked during break time. She thought that I liked her friend. I was so painfully shy that I never had a date during High School. I finally got up the nerve to ask her to to march with me during graduation. We started dating during the summer. This is a picture of the girl that captured my heart.

Puerto Rico Gina

Here we are 36 years later once again walking the halls of Campion Academy. We found our class picture on the wall and took our picture by it.

Campion Academy Alumni

From Campion we drove into Loveland and walked the downtown streets. After we were married we lived in Loveland for six years. The downtown area still looked about the same, but the old buildings have been well maintained and the shopping is now antique stores and art gallerys. Sculptures now line the streets. From Loveland we drove up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. On July 31, 1976, while we were living in Loveland, a violent rainstorm sent a rampaging wall of water through Big Thompson Canyon. The massive flood killed 144 people. Gina and I along with my family had been picnicking along the banks of the Big Thompson River that afternoon. When it started to rain we packed up and drove home through heavy rain. We didn't know there had been a flood until the next morning. The drive up the canyon brought all those memories flooding back.


We spent the afternoon and evening in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park is one of my favorite places anywhere. During the six years that we spent in Loveland, we spent a lot of time in the Park. It was just a one hour drive from home. The scenery was spectacular and the weather was beautiful. The time we spent there brought back so many wonderful memories.

Bear Lake Color

Mother Nature's Daughter

Long's Peak

Gina and Duane

Although the scenery was spectacular, the highlight of our visit was the elk. There were large numbers of wlk in the park. During all the times we visited the park when we lived in the area, we had never seen elk like this.

Elk

They are such magnificent animals. It is great to get to hear them bugle. We were able to hear them bugle many times. The most interesting thing that happened was when Gina was out of the car photographing a magnificent seven point bull. She had just turned around to head back toward the car when Duane and I saw him charging her. We yelled at her and she found out that she can really run fast even at 9,000 feet elevation. She ran around another car and even tried to get in but it was locked. Later when we came back by the area, the bull was still there with his harem. We were photographing him again from inside the car, when he took one look at Gina and charged again. This time I was taking video and captured the scene.



We stayed in Rocky mountain National park until it was too dark to see. We hated for the day to end. Although it was a very long day, It was such a wonderful trip down memory lane. It really gave me a Rocky Mountain High.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Is For Irresistible


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 "I". I is for irresistible. My two granddaughters are simply irresistible. This weekend we drove 8 hours to get to spend one day with them.

Autumn Smiles

Rebekah

Friday evening we met my daughter at Camp Yorktown Bay on Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs. She had driven up from Baton Rouge with several other ladies who were going to the Pathfinder and Adventurer Leadership Training. We knew that the girls wouldn't have fun at the meetings, and we knew they would have fun at Grandma's house. We drove home in rainy nasty weather. There had been a major power outage, and we drove for 50 miles without seeing any lights. It was dark, eerie and spooky. Autumn wanted to hurry up and get to Grandma's house, so she kept urging her Grandma to drive faster. Grandma told her that she had to drive safe.

Saturday morning we got the girls dressed in their beautiful dresses that Grandma had bought for them and went to church. They had a great time in Sabbath School.

Princess Autumn

Rebekah In Sabbath School

Autumn Praying

After church there was a potluck. Rebekah really liked the chocolate cake. The cake didn't really go well with her white dress.

Let Them Eat Cake

After the potluck we went home and the girls took nice long naps. They were really tired from all of the traveling on Friday. They had been on the road for about 11 hours. They are really good travelers. Later that evening we went to Big Bear's Opry. They enjoyed eating popcorn and Rebekah enjoyed the music. After one song Autumn was ready to go home. Gina asked her why she didn't like the music. Autumn answered, "I like the music, I just don't like the noise".



Have Some Popcorn

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Sunday morning we decided that it would make more sense to drive to Texarkana and meet Cynda there. It would be the same two hour trip for us, but would mean taking two hours off of the girls travel time. When Cynda left Hot Springs, she gave us a call and we loaded the girls in the car and headed for Texarkana. When we reached the designated meeting point it was less than five minutes before Cynda arrived. That is as close to perfect timing as you can get. It was great to get to spend time with the girls because they are so irresistible!

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11


Today is the 8th anniversary of 9/11. We never refer to that day as September 11, it is always 9/11. In America there will never again be a September 11. 9/11 is an emotional day for many people. Most Americans can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the awful news that airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was at work when Gina called me to tell me what she was seeing on TV. I turned my radio on, and listened all day as the news reports came in. I think that most people wonder why God allowed something so terrible to happen.

Last year on 9/11 the suffering that people endure in this sinful world was really brought to my attention. So many different situations were brought to my attention on 9/11.

We got a call from Adam and Felicia who live in San Pedro, Belize. Felicia had been very sick, and the local doctors had not been able to find out what was wrong. They were traveling to Chetumal, Mexico to see a doctor there. Felicia was very frightened. She had been too sick to work, so has lost her job. The loss of income has put them in a financial bind. Gina prayed with Felicia over the phone.

Belizean Friends

My Fed-Ex driver shared with me the situation that his family was going through. His brother in law was involved in a fatal one vehicle accident. He left behind a wife and 2 children. Now the wife is going to have to find a way to make a living and support herself and her children.

A small business owner that I deal with called me to let me know that he had to take a couple of days off to go to Little Rock for tests. His heart is giving him problems, and the doctors are talking about bypass surgery. His business is operated by just his wife and himself. He is afraid that he will lose his business.

A friend stopped by my shop to visit. He has gotten himself into some financial trouble. He had a signed contract on his house, and on the strength of that contract started building a new house. The contract fell through at the last minute, and now he fears that he will lose his house if he can't sell it soon.

All of these individuals are good Christian people. Why does God allow these things to happen. I think that is one of the biggest questions in Christianity.

There are many events that have caused people to ask, "why". I don't have the answers as to why so many tragedies happen. I do know that ever since sin came into this world through Satan there have been terrible tragedies. I suppose that Adam and Eve asked "why" when Cain killed his brother Abel.

The only promise that a Christian has in this life is that there will be trouble. Our trouble free existence will be in Heaven where God will wipe away all tears.

Sad

When a tragedy happens, God says ask your questions, but don't stop there. God has given a much greater opportunity. God challenges us to turn to Him for answers. God challenges us to argue with Him. God challenges us to trust Him explicitly.

Bad things happen in this world, to good people, and to bad people, although it seems like the good people get the worst. Murphy's law seems to be all too true. Why do bad things happen to good people? More specifically, why do bad things happen to me? God rarely answers that question. He would pour out only goodness on us all the
time, if He could, but because we live in a sinful world, He can't. Men have free will, and God will not override it.

Belizean Girl Plays in the Dump

Why do bad things happen to good people? Because we live in a sinful world. I know that's not the kind of answer we like, but there is no better answer available.

Once you have learned this and deepened your faith that God has everything under control, then maybe there is a better way to approach the bad things that happen. Don't ask "Why Me, Lord?" when something bad happens. Ask God how He wants you to respond, and then leave the consequences in His hands.

It is all in the response. God can always bring good out of bad, but He needs us to cooperate with Him to bring out the greatest good. This is why Paul can say "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." Rejoice when good things happen, rejoice when bad things happen, because we can trust God to do what is for our
eternal best.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Belated Anniversary


It seems that I missed my anniversary. No it wasn't my wedding anniversary, although I almost missed that milestone this year. We were just about too busy to have an anniversary. The anniversary that I missed was my blogging anniversary. My very first post was on September 6, 2008. Since then I have made 180 posts. Since very few people read my first post I thought I would repost it here.




SHELTER FROM THE STORM


Labor Day weekend my wife and I spent visiting our daughter in Baton Rouge. We had a wonderful time with our granddaughters. Unfortunately we had to cut our visit short because of Hurricane Gustav. As we made plans for the trip we were keeping an eye on the weather reports. At first it looked like we would be fine if we left Monday morning, but Gustav sped up, and we had to leave Sunday morning instead.

As we made our way home we were caught up in heavy traffic as 2 million people were evacuating South Louisiana.

Fleeing Gustav

Why were so many people leaving? Today with satellites and television we have warning when a hurricane is coming. It wasn't always that way. Years ago weather forecasters had no way of knowing what was happening out in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, unless a ship captain relayed storm information. Many hurricanes caught people completely unprepared.

With the information that is available today, people have several days to prepare for a storm. When people receive warning of a storm they have two options. They can evacuate, or they can prepare. The reason that there were so many people on the crowded roads of Louisiana was that they had chosen to evacuate ahead of Gustav. They were looking for shelter from the storm.

There are storms in life that we should run from. About 2 million people ran from Hurricane Gustav when authorities asked people to evacuate. There are times in life when we can take ourselves out of harm's way. But sometimes we can't. There are those storms that we have no control over.

Take the case of Chippie the Parakeet. The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum cleaner, and opened the bag. There was Chippie - still alive, but stunned.

Since the bird was covered with dust, hair and all the stuff you find in a dust bag, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the tap, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, a friend who had heard about Chippie's troubles contacted his owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore - he just sits and stares."

Who can blame him? Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the strongest heart. Things happen in our lives that come along unexpectedly and we end up feeling a bit like Chippie - sucked in, washed up, and blown over – the song stolen from the stongest of hearts.

How can you deal with those kinds of storms? You can't evacuate. You can't run away from them. But you can prepare for them. How can we prepare for the storms of life? First thing to do is to look for shelter. Many homes in Arkansas have a tornado shelter. Our home doesn't, but we have a downstairs hallway with no windows that we use as a shelter in bad weather.

Where can we find shelter when the storms of life overwhelm us? In Psalms 46:1-3,11 the Bible tells us "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The LORD Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

What a beautiful promise. God is our refuge. God is our shelter. He hasn't promised to shield us from every storm. But he tells us that he will always be with us so we don't have to fear.

The 3-year old felt secure in his father's arms as Daddy stood in the middle of the pool. But Daddy, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end. As the water rose higher and higher on the child, the boy's face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in any part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on his Daddy. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the boy in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Daddy, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been.

Remember that there is no storm that is too big for our Father. Psalms 18:2 tells us "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Character Assassination


Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person's reputation. It may involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the person.

Such acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify, and the process is likened to a literal assassination. The damage can last a lifetime or, for historical figures, for many centuries after their death.

In practice, character assassination may involve double speak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject's morals, integrity, and reputation. It may involve spinning information that is technically true, but that is presented in a misleading manner or is presented without the necessary context.

It seems like character assassination has become commonplace. Politics seems like nothing but character assassination. Each political candidate or pundit tries to smear the opposing side.

In Leviticus 19:16 God tells his people “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people”.


Although gossip and character assassination are commonplace, they are not something a Christian should be involved in.

A number of years ago George Harrison wrote a song about gossip titled The Devil’s Radio. Here are some of the lyrics of the song.

Gossip
I heard it in the night
Words that thoughtless speak
Like vultures swooping down below
On the devil's radio
It's all across our lives
Like a weed it's spread
'till nothing else has space to grow
The devil's radio
Gossip

In reality, gossip is telling and/or listening to something uncomplimentary about another with the wrong intent or purpose. It can be true or it can be false, but the intent is the same.

Obviously this is a serious issue; but there is a type of character assassination that is even more serious; the assassination of God’s character.

The first time we find character assassination in the Bible is in Genesis Chapter 3. There Satan, disguised as beautiful serpent, tells Eve half truths and lies and gets her to believe them instead of what God has told her.


Satan invented character assassination. We know that he used it in heaven. He was so good at it that he convinced one third of the angels to believe him instead of God. It is the method that he uses to separate people from God. We want to make sure that we aren’t working for him by giving people the wrong idea about God’s character. It can happen to even the best Christians.

Even the great prophet Moses fell into this trap of Satan’s. We find the story in Numbers chapter 20. For many years God has been providing water to the Children of Israel. Can you imagine that many people basically camping in a dry wilderness? The only way for them to have water would be by the miraculous grace of God. One day there was no water for the congregation. The Bible tells us they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. The people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?

Moses and Aaron prayed to God and asked Him for guidance. God told them, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”

So Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.


It looks like the story has a happy ending. I’m sure that Moses and Aaron were pleased. Even though they had to endure a bit of a tongue lashing, so were the Children of Israel. They now had plenty to drink. But God wasn’t happy.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

That seems quite harsh. Moses and Aaron had given 40 years of their lives leading this ungrateful people to the Promised Land. The one thing they really wanted was to actually see the Children of Israel in the Promised Land. Why was God so upset?

In Psalms 106:32,33 the Bible says “The people also made the LORD angry at Meribah, and Moses was in trouble because of them. The people turned against the Spirit of God, so Moses spoke without stopping to think”.

Moses spoke without stopping to think. He spoke for God words that God had not asked Him to speak. He had followed his own course of action instead of what God had asked Him to do. He had misrepresented God’s character.

If we claim to speak for God, we must not misrepresent the kind of God he is. There is nothing more serious than to picture God as he does not wish to be seen. We must be careful with how we picture God to others.


Do you portray a harsh demanding God, or a loving God? Are you presenting a picture of God that will please Him? We want to make sure that we aren’t a part of the character assassination of God.

1 John 4:16-19 tells us, “And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. This is how love is made perfect in us: that we can be without fear on the day God judges us, because in this world we are like him. Where God's love is, there is no fear, because God's perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears. We love because God first loved us”.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Polk County Fair

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Thursday night Gina and I went to the Polk County Fair. In a small community like Mena, the County Fair is one of the highlights of the year. Everybody attends the fair. The kids are all excited for the carnival to come to town. There are animals, exhibits, booths rides and lots of fun.

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We enjoy looking at the exhibits from the local schools. We used to know lots of kids here in town and would look for their exhibits. Now we are getting so old that we don't know many kids, but we enjoy looking at everything; the flowers, the vegetables, the quilts, the photography.

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One of our favorite things to do is go to the animal barn. The kids work so hard at displaying their animals. We got a kick out of watching kids out beside the barn working on their roping skills. While we were there they were judging the sheep. I had to laugh because the judging was running late because the judge got lost on his way to the fair. Gina made lots of friends with the animals. It is nice to see all of the animals, but we didn't spend much time looking at the chickens because of the overbearing odor. The pig named "Bacon" made me smile. I guess everyone is clear on "Bacon"s future.

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It seems like everyone has a good time at the fair. We got to see lots of people we knew. Gina seemed to know everyone there. I guess it's good to be the Credit Union lady. The attendance seemed to be a bit down the night we went, but it was probably because it had rained a lot. the parking area was a muddy mess, but we were able to get around the fair without to much trouble.

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As the sun began to go down the midway and carnival rides started getting busy. It was really pretty to see the rides against the colorful sunset sky.






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If you have never experienced a small county fair you have really missed out on one of life's little pleasures!