Monday, May 25, 2009


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 silhouette. A silhouette is usually a photo that didn't turn out the way you wanted. This photo was taken at a friends home in Belize. This beautiful little girl is named Zinnia. I always liked this photo, but thought it was a bit dark. It makes an interesting silhouette, and her eyes are striking.


This photo was taken at the Polk County Relay For Life. One of the activities in the early morning hours was open mike where anyone could sing. As I was trying to take photos in such low light conditions, I went around the back of the stage and aligned the shot so that the singe hid the spotlight.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

R Is For Relay

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"R". R is for Relay For Life. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people across the country each year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that takes too much.

My wife and I are co-chairs of the Polk County Relay For Life. The event was originally scheduled for April 17th, but on April 9th a tornado devastated a large part of Mena including Janssen Park where the Relay was to be held.

Mena Tornado 2009 23

The Relay For Life has been rescheduled for May 29th. Most of the 28 teams that were set to participate on the original date plan to be there on the 29th.

USEM Federal Credit Union Banner

What is going to happen that night? The teams will set up at the park with fundraisng ideas. There will be plenty of food, and lots of other fun activities.

Polk County Relay For Life 2007

The entire community is invited to come to the park and help celebrate. The evening kicks off with the Survivor Lap. Relay is a big celebration to celebrate our cancer survivors. Over 100 have signed up with us to walk in that opening Survivor lap.

Survivors Lap

We also honor Caregivers. To be the physical and emotional support for a cancer patient is a tough but very important job, and we honor those individuals.


After these special laps around the park, the teams start walking with the goal of keeping at least one person from each team on the track at all times. Relay starts at 6:00 P.M. and continues until Saturday morning with the closing ceremonies starting at 10:00 A.M. We go through the night because cancer never sleeps.

Enjoying Relay

All evening there are lots of activities. There will be live music with a great program being put together by Richie Owens.

In The Spotlight

Highlighting the evening is a luminaria Ceremony of Hope held after dark to honor cancer survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer. The luminaria candles line the track and are left burning throughout the night.



Last year local Relay For Life team members raised over $60,000.00. To give you a bit of an idea of what the money is used for, here are the largest categories. Patient Support 20%; Prevention 20%; Detection and Treatment 16%; Research 14%.

Relay For Life brings people together and empowers them. Celebrate - Remember - Fight Back.

Saturday, May 16, 2009



Spring is a wonderful time of the year. One of the reasons that I moved to Arkansas is that I don’t like to be cold. Spring brings with it warmer weather and the end of winter, so I look forward to spring every year.

Azaleas at Garvin Woodland Gardens Hot Springs Arkansas

There are many things about spring that I enjoy. When the redbud and the dogwood bloom, they remind me how much I enjoy living in Arkansas. I love to take a ride on country roads just looking at the trees. The flowers blooming make spring a special time of the year. Driving through town when the azaleas are blooming is great. When spring comes each year there is something else that we can look forward to. The grass begins to grow.

The grass beginning to grow again is something about spring that I am not fond of. It seems to be difficult to keep the lawn mowed. This year it has been hard to mow because of the rain. We have had over 17 inches of rain in May so far.

In the past it has been my responsibility to keep the churchyard mowed at my church. We have a large churchyard, so it takes quite a while to mow. I had to mow during the evenings after I get off work. It took two or three evenings a week to keep the churchyard looking good.

Miniature Horse

The reason that I’m not that happy when the grass begins to grow in the spring isn’t because I don’t like to mow. I actually enjoy mowing with the riding mower. It’s because of the difficulty in finding the time. Finding several evenings a week to mow is never easy.

Riding on a mower gave me time to think. What else would I do while riding back and forth across the churchyard. One evening while I was mowing, my mind started thinking about how my devotional time with God, and my mowing time were similar. In my busy life it is difficult to find the time to spend with God, just like it is difficult to find the time to get the mowing done.

The Apostle Paul knew that it could be difficult to find the time to spend with God. When he was writing to Timothy he warned him about becoming so busy that he didn’t have time for spiritual exercise. In 1 Timothy 4:7,8 he gave Timothy this inspired advice. "Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next".

Just like it is important for me to find the time to get the yard mowed, it is also important for me to find the time for what Paul calls spiritual exercise. What was Paul talking about when he said that spiritual exercise was important? I feel that spiritual exercise is Bible reading and study along with prayer. That is talking to God through prayer, and listening to him through reading and studying the Bible.

Have you noticed what happens when a yard misses a mowing or two? It begins to look bad. The same thing can happen to our spiritual life. If we miss our spiritual exercise we begin to get flabby and out of shape. Like a yard that hasn’t been mowed our life begins to look out of control. The longer we let it go the worse it gets. For a neat and trim life, regular devotional time spent with God is a must.

The next time you are mowing your yard, (I know it will be soon), think about your spiritual life. Are you spending enough time with God to keep your life neatly trimmed?

Monday, May 11, 2009


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 laughter. My granddaughter Autumn loves to laugh and have a good time. This photo was taken after a day of watching Mardi Gras parades earlier this year. She had enjoyed the day and was really keyed up. We were eating at the Zea Rotisserie & Grill in Metarie after the parades. I was trying to take a picture of Autumn and had asked her to turn around. She thought it was hilarious to just lean over backwards instead of turning around. I took her picture anyway, and it is one of my favorite photos of her.

Having a Good Time

We met this man while we were touring the Mayan ruins at Lamanai in Belize. He is a Belizean who has lived most of his life in the U.S. He was very friendly and loved having a good time. When I was about to take this photo he asked me if I had black and white film in the camera. I was just about to explain that it was a digital camera before I "got" the joke. We all had a good laugh.

Black and White

Saturday, May 9, 2009

One Month

Saturday the 9th marks one month since a devastating tornado forever changed the face of Mena. As I talk to people I have noticed a fatigue setting in. The town of Mena is tired. So many people are working so hard to try to recover from this terrible event.

Mena Tornado 2009 54

Although the volunteer help and support has been amazing, the realization has set in that this process of recovery will take a very long time. Polk County Judge Ray Stanley said, “It’ll probably be two years before we get back on our feet". It had been two weeks since I had been into the area of town that received the most tornado damage. We drove into the area and took some pictures. When you see the devastation and how things look after one months hard work and over 6,000 large truck loads of debris have been removed from the area it leaves you sad and depressed.

Mena Tornado 2009 64

My heart goes out to the many people affected by this tornado. According to Mayor George McKee there were 200 homes that were totally lost and there may be as many as 1,000 homes that were affected. Besides trying to clean up, deal with insurance companies, and make major decisions for the future, these people are still having to work and do all of the things that people have to do in their everyday lives. No wonder fatigue has set in.

Mena Tornado 2009 57

Even though the people of Mena are tired and saddened, there is still a resilient spirit. We will get through this. When a town of 5,600 has 1,000 homes damaged, you can see that a large percentage of the residents of Mena are affected. Anyone who didn't have damage to their property definitely knows people who did. Going through something like this has really shown me the importance of community and small town Christian values.

Mena Tornado 2009 56

As I was taking photos, I realized how significantly Mena has changed. With over 11,000 trees gone from the heart of town, there is an openness and visibility that was never there before. There were so many large 100 year old trees shading the homes and streets, and now they are gone. Even when things are cleaned up and homes torn down and rebuilt, things will never be the same; at least not for 100 years.

Mena Tornado 2009 63

Buildings and businesses that have been fixtures in the community for years are gone. DJ's convenience store and gas station has been torn down, and the owners have decided not to rebuild. DJ's was the only store and gas station in this part of town, and those who live in the area are already missing it.

Mena Tornado 2009 61

The building where Gina's fabric store, The Golden Thimble, was located is going to be torn down. It was rebuilt after the 1993 tornado, but this time the damage was too great. Seeing this old building brought back many memories of the 1993 tornado, and the long hard hours we put in getting The Golden Thimble back in business.

Mena Tornado 2009 58

Mena Tornado 2009 60

I took these photos of Mena Manor Nursing Home for my friend David. He was the administrator of Mena Manor, but moved to Indiana a couple of years ago. All of the residents of the nursing home have been relocated to other facilities. I have not heard what the future plans are for Mena Manor.

Mena Tornado 2009 55

David and Kim, this photo is for you. Your old house made it through the tornado, but I'm sure that you never thought it would be so open and visible from this angle.

Jim "Big Bear" Huff 2

Saturday night was Big Bear’s Saturday Night Opry Benefit Show For our Storm Victims and tireless Volunteers. Admission to the concert was by donation with all of the proceeds going to benefit victims of the tornado. The concert was held at the Old Armory Building, because the regular venue for Big Bear's Opry, Mena Middle School Auditorium, was severely damaged in the tornado. Mary Caster started the show by singing The Star Spangled Banner. Since there was not a flagpole at the Old Armory the flag was hand held. Mary sang the Nation Anthem beautifully. It was a moving start to a great evening.

Mary Caster Sings The National Anthem

The music was great with many talented local performers including James and Lisa Tarver, Richie Owens, Colin Cannon, Bob Dowdy and the Mountain Bluegrass Boys, Judy Buck, Don Hunt, Six Mile Creek, Steve Rook, Mary Caster, John Talley, Michelle White, Shed West, and Witness Quartet. There was something for everyone. Traditional Country, Blues, Rock and Roll, Modern Country, Bluegrass, Gospel and Folk.

Bob Dowdy and the Mountain Bluegrass Boys

Mayor McKee addressed the audience, and at 8:09 P.M. exactly one month from the time the tornado moved through Mena, Don Hunt prayed for our community and all those affected by the tornado.

The music was great, and I really enjoyed myself. I was touched by the song "With Arms Wide Open" sung by Michelle White. You can listen here. My prayer is that it will bless you as much as it did me.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm So Sleepy

I'm so sleepy yeah
I'm so sleepy yeah
I could lay my head
On a piece of lead
And imagine that
It was a springy bed
Cause I'm sleepy, sleepy

As I was working late one night this week, this old Cat Stevens song kept going through my mind. I don't ever remember being as tired as I have been these last few weeks. Since a F3 tornado devastated Mena on the 9th of April I have been busier than I have ever been in my life. During the last four weeks I have installed over 175 pieces of Auto Glass. My life has consisted of going to work early in the morning and coming home late at night, showering, and crawling into bed, just to do it all again the next day. I think that I will soon be able to work more normal hours.

One of the disadvantages of working so many hours is that it leaves no time for blogging. Hopefully I will be able to take time to blog.

Last weekend we took time away from Mena to go to Keene, Texas to attend Graduation at Southwestern Adventist University. Gavin's girlfriend, Rachel, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in English. She had the biggest smile of any graduate.

Rachel's Graduation 2

Gavin and Rachel look great together. They looked very happy all weekend. We had a great time visiting with Rachel and her family. We were invited to their home for a great meal following the worship service, and we all went out to eat at Olive Garden following graduation.

Rachel's Graduation 3

Rachel's Graduation 5

Also graduating were Gavin's friends Roxie and Luis. We try to spend some time with Roxie and Luis when we are visiting in Keene.

Roxie and Luis

Gavin has been friends with Luis for as long as he has been at Southwestern.

Luis and Gavin

It's time to go to bed and get some rest.

I'm so sleepy yeah
I'm so sleepy yeah
I could lay my head
On a piece of lead
And imagine that
It was a springy bed
Cause I'm sleepy, sleepy