Thursday, December 30, 2010
My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was Peanuts. I remember one comic strip in particular. It is January 1st, and Charlie Brown tells anyone who will listen, “The best way to keep New Year’s Resolutions is in a sealed envelope in a bottom desk drawer.
Charlie Brown knew what every person who has ever made a resolution knows. Making and keeping resolutions is a troublesome business, usually filled with failure and shame.
How have your past resolutions worked out for you? I don't even want to talk about mine. If you have made and broken resolutions on many previous New Year's days, you may feel that you might as well seal them in a bottom desk drawer and forget them. That is the experience I have had.
If there is anything to which Christians should be committed to, it is that people can change for the better and that there is every reason to hope for such a change in our lives and in the lives of others.
If you ask the average person about the resolutions they made for the New Year, they will tell you that they are going to cut down on their eating, they are going to exercise more, stop doing unhealthy things, and start doing healthy things, etc.
While these things are good, they all focus on self and rely on self. These kinds of things are in fact self-serving and look to the power of one’s self to accomplish them. Self-improvement for most people means making themselves more attractive, healthier and happier. They depend on the power of the human will to bring about the changes.
Look at how different our typical resolutions are from the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14. “God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity."
Notice how Paul’s words are focused on others. If we are to use resolutions wisely, we need to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward others. We need to get the focus off of ourselves, and on to God and the strength that comes only from him. What kind of resolutions should we make?
John was called the disciple that Jesus loved. It appears that Jesus had a best friend. I want my resolution to be the words that the best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.
I don’t know of a better resolution that you could make. If we would all make the resolution to love one another imagine how different the world would be.
My wife's cousin, Jerry Patton, spent 37 years as the second tenor of The King's Heralds Quartet, the oldest continuous gospel quartet in America.
One of my favorite songs that he sang was titled One Little Candle. The lyrics are great.
It's better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be
My resolution for 2011 is to light one little candle, will you join me?
P.S. Check out Reaching Hearts 4 Kids. Reaching Hearts 4 Kids believes that every child is a precious gift to the world and that all children deserve the chance to flourish physically and mentally. Reaching Hearts 4 Kids helps to provide children in desperate need with the basic essentials necessary for them to live healthy, fulfilled lives.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I am often intrigued by the ways that blogging has affected my life. The people that I have met and the things I have learned from blogging are amazing. Shawna K. Williams is one of those people. I first started following her blog because she lives in the same town that I do. I was searching Blogger for blogs from my hometown.
In May of this year I bought a Kindle book reader from Amazon. I absolutely love it. When I first got my Kindle I was like a kid in a candy store. So many choices - what was I going to read next.
I read on Shawna's blog, My Father's Oldsmobile, that she had just published her first novel and it was available on Kindle. I downloaded a copy of her book titled No Other.
The book was like No Other that I had ever read. It is considered Inspirational Romance, and I don't read romance novels. My taste in reading is history, autobiographies, non-fiction, religion and classics with just a little science fiction mixed in, well really only Isaac Asimov.
I enjoyed reading No Other. I found the historical small town setting interesting and the characters believable and even a bit gritty. Here is the way the book is described on Shawna's website. "In the aftermath of WWII all Jakob Wilheimer wants is to get over his pain, get on with life, and if at all possible, forgive those who've wronged his family -- including himself. But it's hard to do when there are constant reminders. One of them being his former schoolmate, now teacher, Meri Parker -- Miss Port Delamar Pearl, Mayor's daughter, Belle of the town -- Meri Parker.
After enduring the stigma and isolation associated with the internment camp, the awkwardness of going back to school should've been a cake walk. But Jakob didn't expect to find himself inexplicably drawn to Meri. Or to discover that the pain and loneliness of her life surpassed his own. She needed to be rescued from the wretched people seeking to control her life. And more than anything, he needed to be the one to save her."
As I read the book I found that I was drawn into the story and had to find out how it ended. I hadn't really expected to be so intrigued by the story and the characters. After all I don't like Romance Novels.
Once Shawna had published her first novel, she just kept publishing, and has released two more books this year. The next book was the sequel to No Other titled In All Things.
The story of Jakob and Meri moves from rural small town USA to the bright lights and glamor of Hollywood. Set in 1950's Hollywood, the couple struggle balancing success with the important things in life like love and family. When they return to their hometown for the holidays events are set in motion that help them see that there are more important things in life that fame and success - that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
The portrayal of 1950's Hollywood and the movie industry will be interesting to anyone who enjoys the old movies of that era. Shawna does a great job of capturing an era - a picture in time.
With two books published in such a short time I was surprised when yet another book was published just a few days ago. It is a story that has no relationship to the No Other / In All Things story. The book is titled Orphaned Hearts.
Orphaned Hearts is set in Western Arkansas during the Great Depression. An orphanage and a young handicapped orphan are at the center of the story. Of course there is a love story - it is a romance - but the focus of the story is the love that the two main characters have for a young orphaned boy. With a Christmas scene being pivotal to the story, it is a great Holiday read. I enjoyed the setting here in Arkansas, and the depiction of life in a small rural Arkansas town during the depression.
I have enjoyed reading each of Shawna's books and can recommend them to anyone. If you enjoy reading I hope that you check these books out. For more information check out the Shawna K. Williams website.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
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.
As I drove to work I photographed some of the places that I drive by every day.
God can make even a junkyard beautiful. I took these photos behind my shop where we keep the vehicles that some people consider junk.
The Kansas City Southern railroad tracks run right behind my shop. I climbed up to the tracks to take these photos.
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!
Monday, November 8, 2010
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.
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.
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.
The streets of Eureka are always so colorful and filled with interesting people
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.