Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn Beauty

Autumn 2

I really love Autumn and how much beauty is in Autumn. I also like Fall and the colorful foliage. My oldest granddaughter is named Autumn and she is beautiful! Recently my daughter placed some photos on Facebook that she titled "Autumn (the season)".

As beautiful as my granddaughter Autumn is, this post is to showcase the beauty of Autumn (the season). It has been an unusual year. Usually the color is almost gone by this time of year. My wife said "The hills are alive with color. I thought we weren't going to have a very pretty fall this year but God wasn't finished yet". She sure was right. Recently I took some photos of of the Autumn foliage in my town of Mena, Arkansas. I would like to share some of them with you.

Autumn Beauty

Mena Color 2

Mena Color

As I drove to work I photographed some of the places that I drive by every day.

Mena Street

Mena Depot


God can make even a junkyard beautiful. I took these photos behind my shop where we keep the vehicles that some people consider junk.

Rusted Splendor

Hidden Treasure

Junkyard Color

Kaiser in Fall

The Kansas City Southern railroad tracks run right behind my shop. I climbed up to the tracks to take these photos.

Into Color

Rails of Color

On The Tracks

I don't really like winter and cold weather. I have always thought that the beautiful Autumn colors kind of makes up for the cold weather that I know is coming. This year the Autumn beauty has been nothing less than spectacular!

Autumn Beauty 2

Splash of Color

Cemetary Color

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eureka Springs

To Protect And Serve
Last weekend we took a trip to Eureka Springs for the Ozark Folk Festival. Eureka Springs is one of our favorite places. We try to go there several times a year as it is a beautiful three and a half hour drive from home.

Eureka Springs is a Victorian mountain village that was founded in 1879. Judge J.B. Saunders claimed that his crippling disease was cured by the spring waters. Saunders started promoting Eureka Springs to friends and family members across the State and created a boomtown. Within a period of little more than one year, the city grew from a rural village to a major city of 5,000 people. By 1889 it was the second largest city in Arkansas. With bath house cures falling out of favor, and the depression that hit the nation being particularly bad in Arkansas, Eureka Spring fell into decline during the 30's.

With the end of World War II the era of the family car trip began. Businesses and services moved to the highway, rustic tourist courts and air-conditioned motels were built alongside diners and gift shops. Sights that had been horseback adventure were now attractions to the motoring tourist. The motoring public could turn-off Hwy 62 down 62B into the valley, follow the loop through the historic little Victorian city, and come back out on the highway.

Autumn Limestone

Early in the 1960s Beaver Lake was completed, and shortly after that Pea Ridge Battle Field National Military Park was opened. Northwest Arkansas attractions continued to expand the number of tourists passing through the Eureka Springs area. In the 1970s, the public was looking for a different lodging experience. The bed and breakfast concept was a perfect fit for the public and for Eureka Springs. The city prospered at a rate reminiscent of the early boom days. It is now a favorite vacation spot for many with over 2500 rooms available. On peek weekends it can be difficult to find a room.

The city has steep winding streets filled with Victorian-style cottages and manors. The old commercial section of the city has an alpine character, with an extensive streetscape of well-preserved Victorian buildings.

City Auditorium

I love to take photos in Eureka Springs, and last weekend was no different. I spent some time Sunday just shooting on the streets of Eureka. Here are some of the shots I took. The next three photos were shot at Basin Park, which is the heart of downtown Eureka.

Basin Park

Old Glory


The streets of Eureka are always so colorful and filled with interesting people

J.A. Nelson Gallery


Biker Chicks

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Santa's Helpers 3

Here are a couple of signs that caught my attention. I have always found the sign at Scarlett's amusing. Scarlett's is a shop that sells sexy lingerie and other items to "enhance one's sex life". While everyone else in town is open, Scarlett's is closed on their Sabbath.

Closed On Sabbath

Practice Safe Lunch

The fall colors were at their peek, so everywhere you looked there was beautiful foliage. The color made the drive to and from Eureka Springs so interesting. I can't wait until our next trip to Eureka!

Eureka Color

Eureka Color 2

Ozark Folk Festival

The Granddaddy of them all - The Ozark Folk Festival in Eureka Springs is the country’s oldest continuously running folk festival. It was in 1947 that this beautiful little town in the Ozarks held its first folk festival. The event was started by local artists and musicians with the purpose of keeping traditional crafts and music alive. They also wanted to bring in the young emerging voices and artists who were giving new energy to Americana music and arts.

It began as a small informal celebration, with craftsman pulling their wares out onto the sidewalks and the sound of fiddles and banjos echoing off of the hills. Over the years some of the biggest names in music have performed at the festival.

Performance Today

This is the first year that I have been able to attend. I really wanted to go because 3 Penny Acre was opening for Eliza Gilkyson. I had heard 3 Penny Acre when they came to Mena and put on a show at Ouachita Little Theater. I was immediately drawn to their sparse Acoustic/Folk/Roots/Americana music. Just three acoustic musicians with amazing voices and harmonies in a small venue made for an incredible show. The show in Mena was a coming home for band member Bernice Hembree who grew up here.

Listening to 3 Penny Acre as they opened the show at the City Auditorium in Eureka Springs was all I had hoped it would be. The Auditorium is such a great venue for music. One of my favorite songs of theirs is the title track off of their new album Highway 71. Highway 71 runs through Mena, and my shop is located on the highway. When we first moved to Arkansas in 1981, Highway 71 still had one lane bridges and there was a popular bumper sticker that stated "Please pray for me; I drive Highway 71.

I really hated to see the 3 Penny Acre set end, but there was a lot of great music yet to come. Wes Castro played a solo set of his own songs. He was the winner of 2009 Ozark Folk Festival Songwriter Contest.

Wes Castro

Headlining the show was Eliza Gilkyson. Eliza comes from a musical family and has been recording since 1969. She grew up in the midst of the Hollywood entertainment industry. Her father, Terry Gilkyson, was a musician and songwriter. Among her fathers hits were Frankie Laine's "Cry of the Wild Goose," Dean Martin's "Memories Are Made of This," the 1960 folk-pop smash "Greenfields," recorded by the Brothers Four, and "The Bare Necessities," from the 1967 Disney Studios film The Jungle Book.

Eliza Gilkyson

Eliza is a great entertainer. She has a good rapport with her audience. I had not heard her music before, but really enjoyed her music.

The Ozark Folk Festival was lots of fun. I hope that I can make it back next year.

Meeting 3 Penny Acre


Friday, November 5, 2010

World Orphan's Day - November 8

It is amazing how many official days there are. Every day seems to be the official day of something. Nov 8th is World Orphans Day, it is also Aid and Abet Punsters Day and Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day, but World Orphans Day is much more important.

The purpose of World Orphan’s Day is to facilitate public awareness of social issues surrounding orphans and displaced children’s social issues, and to engage community support for the causes.

Here are some facts about orphans.

1. It would take 80,000 orphanages with 500 children each to house all the orphans in Sub Sahara Africa left behind by the pandemic of AIDS.

2. Over 60 million orphans go to bed hungry every night.

3. 143 million children are suffering from malnutrition, and 400 thousand of those will die this year.

4. HIV and AIDS is devastating global communities, and millions are facing the horror of war and abuse EVERY day.

5. Nearly 144 million children across the world are orphans.

6. Every 2 seconds, another child becomes an orphan.

7. 6,000 children are orphaned by AIDS every day. That is a newly orphaned child every 14 seconds.

8. Malnutrition plays a part in more than half of all child deaths worldwide. Every year, malnutrition is associated with the deaths of five million children under the age of five.

In our comfy little corner of America it is hard for us to realize what these facts really tell us. Why should I as a Christian worry about these problems that have been brought on by the sinful behavior of others? Are orphans any of my concern?

God’s word tells us in James 1:27 “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us”.

How can we help? Pray! Pray specifically for those organizations whose mission it is to help the orphans. Trust God to impress upon your heart what you might do or give. I can recommend Reaching Hearts For Kids as a charity with a passion for helping orphans.

Take, for instance, George Müller, who was born in Prussia in 1805. He didn’t care about anything other than pursuing his own pleasures. His future looked bleak, but God was working in George’s life. In 1825, he became a Christian and changed from a drunken con man to a humble man who depended on God for everything.

In 1832 he became the pastor of a Brethren congregation in Bristol, England. Bristol would be the center of his ministry for the next sixty-six years. As his work among the poor in Bristol grew, Mueller saw the need for an orphanage. He read the scripture in Psalms 68:5 that says “God is a father of the fatherless”. He believed that if God was truly the father to orphans, all he had to do was to make himself available to care for the orphans and God would supply every need. So that’s what he did.

As God increased his faith Mr. Mueller built homes and cared for more and more children. The orphanage he operated had five mammoth buildings, and over the years took care of the needs of over 10,000 orphans. At his death, he was caring for over 2,000 children everyday!

Mr. Mueller never told anyone of his needs for his orphanage, his church, or his own personal needs. During his ministry he took in the equivalent of 250 million dollars for the support of the orphanages without ever asking for a dime.

Do you think that God cares about the orphans? What has he asked us as Christians to do about it? The Bible tells us in Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Rebuke the oppressor. Help the orphans. Stand up for the rights of widows.”

I think that the Bible makes it clear that we as Christians have a duty to help. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and become more concerned for all of those who need our help like the 143 million children who are suffering from malnutrition. A child under the age of 5 dies every 3 seconds from neglect, starvation, or exposure. That is 30 thousand every day, 11 million every year.

With the economic downturn here in America a lot of Christians, myself included, expend a lot of emotional energy worrying about conditions and how they will affect us. We need to take our focus off of ourselves and focus on the task that God has given those of us who have more than enough to sustain us.

1 John 3:17 tells us “If anyone has enough money to live well, and sees someone in need and refuses to help—how can God's love be in that person?

Is God’s love in you? We certainly don’t want to hear the words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:45,46 “I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

My friend Richie Owens has written a song that addresses this issue

Somewhere In Time
By Richie Owens

A newborn baby cries as
Tears filled his mother’s eyes
Her joy is eclipsed by her fear as
Men on drugs with guns and knives
Run up and down the streets outside
And there’s no future for this baby here

Somewhere a child is safely playing
Somewhere there’s plenty all the time
Somewhere life is pure and perfect
She cries why can’t that somewhere be mine

Are we not called to lend a hand
Glad to do all we can
To save the drowning in the sea of life

We cannot win this world by might
By corporate power or legal fight
But by His spirit reaching out
And turning on the light

Somewhere a little girl is hurting
Somewhere a mans crossed the line
Somewhere hopes and dreams are shattered
And we need to find somewhere in time

We claim to love Jesus
Live our lives at his feet
While he scours the dump
In search of something to eat

Somewhere there’s no help or guidance
Somewhere no one sees the signs
Somewhere lifes just too busy
And we need to find somewhere in time.