Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Top 10

2015 is almost over.  Here is a list of the top ten most viewed posts of 2015 on An Arkies Musings.  It is always interesting to me to see what topics other people are interested in.

The most viewed post from 2015 was Caddo Lake.  We spent a weekend in February in Uncertain, Texas on the shores of Caddo Lake.  It was so eerily beautiful and relaxing.  We rented a lovely house on the lake shore called Hoot n Holler.  Caddo Lake is on the border of northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana.  It includes one of the best examples in the southern United States of a mature bald cypress forest, and is one of the largest cypress forests in the world.  The moss-draped cypress groves are beautiful.  You can read the post here.

The second most viewed post was Rebecca Loebe.  In April my wife and I saw Rebecca Loebe in concert at Eureka House Concerts in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  We first saw Rebecca Loebe in concert at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The Eureka Springs concert was in a beautiful old church and there was a potluck before the concert. Rebecca Loebe is an amazing singer-songwriter, but the best thing about her concert was her ability to make you feel like she was just singing to some friends of hers and by the end of the evening you really felt like you knew her. You can read the post here.

He's Alive - a post from April 3, 2015 - was the third most viewed post of the year.  It is a condensed version of a sermon that I gave at the Mena Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  The sermon was inspired by a Don Fransisco song.   Don’s music often tells a story and “He’s Alive” is one of his best. It tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus from Peter’s point of view.  You can read the post here.

As born again Christians, people adopted into the family of God, we are called to form a new kind of community where people show each another the same grace we have received from God. My July 17, 2015 post titled Born Again made it to number 4 for the year.  You can read the post here.

In June of this year, the band Smokey and the Mirror had their album Thin Black Line removed from Spotify because too many of their fans were listening to the album too many times. I was one of those fans. I attended the Album Fundraiser Concert for this album.  My fifth most popular post of the year was the story of Smokey and the Mirror's dealing with Spotify.  You can read the post here.

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven".  My post titled Little Children was the sixth most read post of the year.  You can read the post here.

The seventh most read post of this year was The Effects of Epilepsy.  I had been contacted by Healthline.com and asked if I would share the article with my readers.  They had seen my post on Epilepsy and thought that it would be a great resource for An Arkie's Musings readers.  The article was written by Ann Pietrangelo and medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA
You can read the post here.

My eight year old granddaughter Rebekah loves to take photos.  On our trip to Jefferson, Texas, I let her use my camera one afternoon.  As a proud Papa I was impressed with the photos she took and wrote a blog post titled Young Photographer, sharing some of her photos. It became the eighth most read post of the year.  You can read the post and see her photos here.

Number nine for the year is a post from August 22, 2015 titled Pharisees. It is another condensed version of a sermon that I gave at the Mena Seventh-Day Adventist Church. You can read the post here.

The final post in the top ten of 2015 is from September 11, 2015 and is titled September 11.  Every year when September 11th comes again, emotions of Americans are heightened as we remember September 11, 2001. 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.  But this post is about September 11, 1857 which was the date of one of the worst massacres in American history.  You can read the post here.  

The post Strawberries and Rugs was one of my favorite of the year. The story was written by my daughter Cynda when she was in high school. My Uncle Lloyd Lawry saved the story and included it in a collection of family stories and writings of his own.  You can read the post here

I can't wait to see what adventures and experiences 2016 will bring.  I wonder what the top ten posts of 2016 will be.

You can read the Top 10 posts of 2014 here.

You can read the Top 10 posts of 2013 here.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mother's Christmas Program

While he was at a family reunion, my Dad was given a story written by my cousin, Toni Ehrhardt. The story takes place during the Great Depression and centers around two little girls. Here is a photo of those two little girls.

                                  IRENE AND HENRIETTA

Mother's Christmas Program
by Toni Ehrhardt

My mother,Irene Dannels Woolery was born in 1925 on a small farm near Altoona, Kansas. Times weren't easy at the Dannel's Place nor most other places for that matter. I remember my mother telling me that most of the time, the family had a nice Christmas dinner of baked chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, hot rolls and pumpkin pie. Possibly, they had gingerbread, fudge and mady taff. I'm just guessing they had milk, water or home-made cider to drink.

For Christmas, the kids, (my mom and her sisters and brothers), usually got a nickel, an orange, and some gift my grandparents made for them. For example, my grandpa made little tractors out of spools and rubber bands and my grandma made rag dolls or teddy bears and made outfits for them.

The family went to cut down a Christmas tree and decorated their tree with popcorn, little ornaments they made at home, church, or school and possibly with little pieces of ribbon or bits of lace. They went to school and church programs and especially enjoyed those things as well as big family dinners with lots of cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Times, of course, got even rougher in the 1930's. I remember my mother telling me that my Grandma Zenella Reeve Dannels, had one dress and one pair of overalls. Naturally, the girls didn't have many clothes either but somewhere around 1939 when my mom was about 14, my grandma promised the girls (My mom, Irene and my aunt, Henrietta, who were still in school that she would make them both a nice Christmas dress for their Christmas program at Buffville School.

My mother always loved clothes and shoes, so she was in a rush to get home from school that day to see the dresses that my grandmother, an adequate and basic seamstress, had made for her and Etta. So the two girls hurried in on that cold Winter day anxious to see their new dresses.

The girls ran to my grandmother and asked, "Where are the dresses you made for us for the School Program? My grandmother replied, "I'm sorry, girls. I simply didn't have the time to make any dresses for you. You'll just have to do with your best dress this time. I'm sorry."

My Aunt Henrietta didn't get so upset but my mother was absolutely devastated. She had imagined a new red velvet dress and she was practically sick that my grandmother hadn't made dresses for them. She was mad too, because my grandmother had definitely promised the girls new dresses for this event, which was one of the most important programs of the season.

About that time, the girls heard a car coming and a car horn honking, honking, honking. They ran to see who it was because they weren't expecting anybody and they also had to hurry to get washed up and primped for the program. They were a little surprised to see their oldest brother, Walter Dannels, and his cute young wife, Stelline (Hoobler) Dannels, coming in the door carrying boxes.

"Are you two coming to our Christmas program?" my Mom asked.  "Sure are!" Walter said, grinning. "Now you two girls better hurry and get all fixed up so I won't be so embarrassed that you're my little sisters!" "Come on," Stelline told the two younger girls. "Now get in there and I'll help you fix your hair!"

All three of the girls crowded into the girls' bedroom and my Mom asked, "Hey, Stelline, what's in the box?"  "Never you mind. Just get your school clothes off and hang them up. And you need to hurry. I've made some sandwiches and cookies for us to eat".  Then Stelline started opening the boxes. She pulled out two of the prettiest dresses my Mom and Aunt Etta had ever seen.

"Oh, Stelline, Thank you! Thank you! We had no idea you were making us Christmas dresses! Oh, they're so pretty!"  "I just love mine, too. They are so cute and stylish. Thank you!"  "Now stop blubbering and get those dresses on," Walter hollered.

The two girls got the dresses on, and they fit perfectly. Stelline also whipped a comb and brush through their hair and sprayed on a tad of Evening in Paris perfume. "You two girls will be the belles of the ball" she told them smiling at their happy excited faces.

About that time my grandparents came in with some eggs and a milk pail to leave in the cellar. "You two girls sure look nice!" my Grandma said. "Wasn't it nice of Stelline to make your Christmas dresses when I really couldn't find the time."

My Grandpa Earl Dannels said, "You girls look dandy. I'm really going to feel proud tonight!" "Oh Stelline, you've made this the best Christmas Program ever!" the two girls said, smiling widely.


Note from Toni Ehrhardt: My Aunt Stelline (Hoobler) Dannels passed away in 1968, much too young. She had a special talent of looking at a dress and the person who wanted it and sewing it up in no time. Everything she made looked like it came from Vogue. She also was a very good cook. I remember especially that she made wonderful Turkey Pie. She is sadly missed by her children and family.

Stelline Elizabeth Hoobler was born November 30, 1916 in Jasper, Alabama and died May 13, 1968. She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, El Centro, California . She married Walter Louis Dannels December 4, 1935 in Erie, Kansas. He was born April 24, 1914 in Altoona, Kansas and died August 19, 1998. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, El Centro, California.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Most Popular - Christmas Gifts

This is a repost of my most viewed blog post with over 10,000 views.  I hope you enjoy it.


As Christmas approaches one of the things that most people focus on is gift giving.  We spend a lot of money and time finding the right gifts for people that are important in our life.  Sometimes we fail in our gift giving.

One Christmas when my son was a young boy, we nearly ruined his Christmas with one particular gift.  One of the jobs that he was given around the house was sweeping the kitchen floor.  That Christmas we bought a stick vacuum cleaner and thought it would be funny to give to him as a gift.  When it was wrapped, the vacuum was the largest gift under the tree.  When my son saw that the largest gift had his name on it he was very excited.  His imagination went wild.  What could that present be?  His whole Christmas revolved around the largest gift under the tree.  When Christmas morning arrived, all he could think about was that gift.  When he opened it, he was so disappointed that the rest of his Christmas presents couldn't make up for the vacuum cleaner fiasco.

Have you ever been disappointed by a gift?  Has someone been disappointed by the gift you gave them?  What about great gifts?  What is the best gift you have ever received? What made it so special? Was it the value of the gift? Was it the person who gave it to you? Was it because it was so unexpected?

As I think about this question I find it hard to narrow down one particular gift as the best. There is one gift that I received that was very special for a number of reasons. One of the reasons this particular gift was special is that I still don’t know who gave me the gift. Let me tell you the story.

In February 2004, 17 members of my church raised 20,000 dollars and went to San Pedro, Belize in Central America to build a church. While we were there we made lots of friends. We were only in San Pedro for a short time, but by the time we left the walls of the church were finished. During the following months, the church members in San Pedro finished the church building. Plans were made for a church dedication service to be held in February 2005. I was invited to come to the dedication service. I really wanted to go. This church building project had been very important to me, and I had made many friends in San Pedro that I wanted to see again. There was just one problem. I couldn’t afford the trip.

Woman In Red

One day I received a letter in the mail from Fare Finders Travel. Why were they sending me a letter? When I opened the letter I was surprised by what it said. Please come in to Fare Finders to make arrangements for a round trip ticket to Belize. Someone has paid for the ticket, but they want to remain anonymous. I couldn’t believe it. My wife immediately tried to figure out who the anonymous donor was. She still hasn’t cracked the case. It is still an unsolved mystery. The mysterious ticket has to be one of the best gifts I have ever received.

We made plans to go back to San Pedro. As we packed and attended to all the details of the trip, the mystery giver was in our thoughts. Who was this person who had given such a meaningful and valuable gift? How could we thank the giver?

Our trip to Belize was wonderful. It was very special to me to see the completed church building. The dedication service was beautiful and moving with people from several different countries participating. We got reacquainted with friends that we had made the year before, and made many new friends the 10 days that we were there. Many times friends would stop by our room with gifts such as fresh coconut water, papaya, or some small trinket. On the last day we were in San Pedro, there was a steady stream of visitors at our room. They wanted to tell us goodbye. Most of them brought a gift.

Belizean Friends

We received one gift that was very special to me. My wife made a special friendship with a little 2 year old boy who spoke only Spanish. Whenever he would see her his face would light up. He didn’t understand English, but he understood the language of love. The day we were leaving he and his 4 year old sister came to our door with a gift. They gave us a well worn 1941 Walking Liberty half dollar. I have no idea how this little family had come into possession of this coin, or why they gave it to me. Even though the monetary value of the coin is only a few dollars it is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received.

San Pedro Angel

I learned an important spiritual lesson on my trip to Belize. I learned it from the people that I met. They had such a desire to do something for us. Even though they had only meager possessions, they had such a desire to please. They wanted to see us before we left. They had to bring us a gift. It was very important to them. To me that showed how I should relate to God. God, I don’t have anything but I want to give you something. God let me know what I can do to please you. God I want to be with you.

He's Alive

In Romans 6:23 the Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. God has given you the best gift ever, what will you give God this Christmas?

Monday, December 7, 2015


I must admit that I have never liked Xmas as an abbreviation for Christmas.  It just seems a bit flippant and unnecessary. In today's culture where many Christians perceive a war against Christmas, they see the use of Xmas as an attempt to secularize the season by taking Christ out of Christmas.

I must admit that I agreed with those sentiments until I actually looked into the history of the use of Xmas.  Originally, Xmas was an abbreviation where the X represents the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter of Christ's name in Greek, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. However, because of the modern interpretations of the letter X, many people are unaware of this and assume that this abbreviation is meant to drop Christ from Christmas.

According to R. C. Sproul in his book, Now That's a Good Question, the idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

The Greek letter Χ, or Chi, was a common abbreviation for "Christ" in past religious writings. Its usage can be traced as far back as the 4th century in Rome, and to 1021 AD in historic Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Xmas began to be used in English starting in the 1500′s. Webster’s dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century.

In an article on the subject of Xmas written by Dennis Bratcher, he states, "Xmas is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season.  Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church.  It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church. In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation "Xmas" should be pronounced "Christmas" just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying "exmas."

Even though we know from history that it isn't offensive to use “Merry Xmas,” do be aware that some still find it so, so use good judgment when using the abbreviation “Xmas.”

Merry Xmas every one from An Arkie's Musings - pronounced properly of course.  :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Do You Know?

Most people don't like to take tests.  It makes them nervous. Some occupations require passing a test before you can be licensed to work, such as Nursing, Law, Civil Service jobs and many others.  This can create a lot of anxiety in people.  Waiting to find out if you passed is very stressful.

When I was in high school I had a teacher who told us that if we had an A in the class we wouldn’t have to take the final exam.  I didn’t like to take finals, so I worked hard at making an A.  The Monday of finals week the teacher posted the grades.  I looked and I had an A-.  I was relieved; I wouldn’t have to take the final exam.  Then the teacher told me that I would have to take the final exam because only those who had an A were exempt and I had an A-.  I argued that an A- was still an A but it didn’t do me any good.  I had to take the final exam.

Many Christians go through life like they are in school, always wondering how they are doing in their grades, and are they making a passing grade.  They spend their lives in anxiety about the outcome.
They have the belief that they cannot know if they are saved or lost! Many don't have that assurance of salvation.

The Bible has a lot to say on this topic. You can have assurance that you are saved.

How many people here are married? How many of you don't know if you're married or not? How do you know that you are married?  You can know if your married or not. Well can you know if you are saved? Surely you can know. How many know that you are going to be married 10 years from now for sure? Now that’s a different question isn’t it?

We can know if we are saved today, but only God knows the future. But let us not be bashful about knowing in our heart whether or not we are in a saved condition right now. We need to know that. Philippians 4:7 tells us that, "God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus".

The devil doesn't want you to know if we are saved or not!  He is your accuser.  Revelation 12:10 tells us , “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

Satan wants you to believe that God has made impossible demands on you and that you cannot measure up to what God want’s from you.  Too often Christians not only believe his lies but spread them to others.

Works oriented Christians know they don’t measure up.  They know that the wages of sin is death.  They have a hard time believing that eternal life is actually a gift of God. Jesus wants you to know in your heart that you are saved. In John 6:47 Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life”.

He who believes on Jesus has everlasting life. If you believe, you have it. Is there a doubt there? There is no doubt. Do you believe that verse? Many Christians do not believe that verse, or John 3:16 where Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

That's clear, isn't it? It's very simple. So, how do you know if you're saved or not? If you believe in Jesus, if you trust in Jesus, if you have faith in Jesus, you have eternal life. It's that simple.

Let’s look at John 20:31, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." How do you get that life? By believing. Isn't that beautiful? By believing you have life.

If you believe, you have it. You are saved, if you believe.

You can read my blog post on the four steps to salvation here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Confess, Ask, Believe, Receive

Confess, ask, believe, receive:  These are four steps to the assurance that you have been saved.

1. CONFESS - The Bible tells us in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

If I flip the light switch, the light will shine.  If I turn the key, the car will start. If I confess my sins, God will forgive my sins.  It all depends on me. I have to confess.

Remember that God has promised to forgive.  Isaiah 43:25 tells us that, " I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins".  And Micah 7:19 says, "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea".

Don't try to do God's work for Him. This is where our doubt of our salvation comes in, because we're basing our salvation on our works. We need to base our salvation on Jesus Christ and His works, His righteousness. That's where we get assurance from. To confess means to admit your sins in sorrow, and let Jesus give you the victory.

2. ASK  -  In Luke 11:9, we are taught that we should ask and God will answer. It's up to us to do the asking. Eternal life is a gift.  The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Can you earn a gift? At Christmas time, can you earn your gifts? At birthday times, can you earn a gift? You can't do it. And salvation is a gift. It's not a wage. We cannot earn it or any part of it. We cannot save ourselves.

If you ask Jesus to save you, he will save you because He has promised to be your Savior. If we receive Christ and His salvation, we are saved, and we're saved right now. I John 5:12 say,s "He who has the Son has life"! It's that simple. If you have Jesus you have eternal life.

3. BELIEVE - John 6:40 says, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Believe! You need to believe. Not like a person believes in skydiving. I believe in skydiving, but I avoid it.

Blondin, who is considered to be one of the greatest tightrope-walkers of all time, became famous for crossing Niagra Falls on a tightrope. In 1860 a Royal party from Britain that included the Prince of Wales saw Blondin cross the tightrope on stilts, and again blindfolded. After that he stopped halfway across and cooked and ate an omelet. Next he wheeled a wheelbarrow from one side to the other, and returned with a sack of potatoes in it.  Then Blondin approached the Royal party. He asked the Prince of Wales, "Do you believe I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?"  "Yes, I do", said the Prince.  "Hop in, then", replied Blondin.  Well, the Prince declined Blondin's challenge. He might have believed Blondin could do it, but he wasn't about to trust him with his life.

You need to believe in salvation with all your heart. We have to trust Jesus. If you can have that relationship with Jesus, you have eternal life.  Romans 10:9 says, "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved".

So, we confess our sins to Him, we ask Him for salvation, and we believe that He does save us. And then...

4. RECEIVE -  You must receive it. At Christmas you're never going to enjoy what's inside that package unless you receive it and open it, are you? It won't happen. Salvation must be received. You can't believe that it is yours and not take it or use it. You must receive it.

Here is an illustration to answer the question, how do I know I am saved?  What is the difference between a hog and a sheep? If they both happen to come up to a mud puddle and fall in the mud puddle, one difference is the hog enjoys it. He's down in it making the most of it. He's in hog heaven, a mud hole.

What happens to the sheep when he falls in the mud hole? Does he like it? No! He wants to get out of there.  And when he gets out, is he happy with the mud that's on his wool? No! He says, "Please wash me. Make me white again." Do you see the difference between a hog and a sheep? They both end up in the mud puddle occasionally by accident, but the sheep hates it. He can't stand it. That's how you know the difference between a hog and a sheep.

If you sin, and you think, "that was kind of enjoyable. I'd like to do that again." You may be a hog. But, if you get in that mudhole, if you sin, and you hate it, and when you get out of it you say to God, "please forgive me. Please cleanse me." That's a mark of a true Christian.

Do you know that you're saved? Every morning Jesus renews His love with you, He's there. He's real. Believe and trust in Jesus and you're going to be with Him in heaven.  Remember: Confess, Ask, Believe and Receive.  Jesus wants you to have the peace that comes from knowing that he has saved you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


I've always wanted to be a shepherd.  No I haven’t really wanted to live alone with a herd of sheep; I have always coveted the experience of the shepherds on that first Christmas night.

God could have chosen to reveal this most important announcement to anyone on earth.  But instead of assigning the angels to visit some of the most important people on earth, God sent the angels to speak to humble shepherds, who most people didn't consider important.

The shepherds would have been watching over their flocks while the sheep and lambs rested or grazed on grass from the hillsides. While the shepherds were prepared to deal with any danger that threatened their animals, they were shocked and scared by witnessing the angels' appearance. That’s why the angels told them, “don’t be afraid”.

The angels reassured the terrified shepherds that they had good news for them. Since the shepherds raised the lambs that were sacrificed to atone for people's sins each spring on Passover, the shepherds would have well understood the importance of the Messiah's arrival to save the world from sin. Many historians believe that Jesus Christ was  born in the spring around Passover.  In John 1:29, the Bible refers to Jesus as the "lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world".

Long before electric lights were invented, the fields around Bethlehem would have been very dark. Suddenly a bright light broke into the black night, as the sky above Bethlehem filled with a multitude of angels.

The announcement of the birth of Jesus was marked by the light of many angels appearing in all of their heavenly glory.  As amazing as the experience must have been, seeing angels appearing in the night sky, that’s not the part of the experience that intrigues me the most. It is what happened next.

The Bible tells the story in Luke 2:15-18: "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

Imagine what it must have been like to be one of the first people to see the baby Jesus!  I can just feel the excitement these humble shepherds felt.  The just had to tell people of their experiences.  Can you imagine being a part of those conversations! Even in the days before media such as television and the internet, word traveled fast that something amazing was happening.

Even though I will never be a shepherd or experience the things that the humble shepherds of Bethlehem experienced on that first Christmas, I can follow their example.  I can spread the word about the baby Jesus.  I can be excited about Jesus and what he means to this world.  That is what Christmas is all about.  Let’s all be shepherds!