Apollo 8: Onboard 45 Years Later For “Earthrise”

Of all the posts we’ve been blessed to show you over the past months, one of our favorites, and still one of our most read, was the one entitled, “Apollo 8 Astronauts Read Creation From Genesis: Christmas Eve, 1968.” Astronauts Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Frank Gorman had just become the first men to orbit the moon, and they were the men, in a group effort, who would take the most famous photograph in history, entitled “Earthrise.”
Earth From Space-Apollo 8I’ll share the link back to that story, in which I offer my own personal reflections of seeing and hearing these historic events unfold, including how much the world had changed in those 44 years, evidenced by the “In the beginning God …” postage stamp (still my favorite all-time U.S. stamp).
Apollo 8 StampIt was a tremendous thrill for me to share the transcript of the reading from Genesis, chapter 1, in which all 3 of the astronauts took turns reading from the Bible … and, then, we had a link to the actual broadcast of the reading from space … including the video, supplied by NASA.
For those of you who may have missed it, or would like to re-live those moments from Christmas Eve, 1968, here is the link to that post: Just click on the photograph to go directly there (it will open in a new window, in order for you to stay here, and enjoy the new video we have for you): Just click the photo to go to that story:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

And now, to celebrate the 45th anniversary (yes, 45 years) of the “Earthrise” photo, we will be able to go on board the Apollo 8 spacecraft, and experience how that famous photograph came to be … how the photograph was a group effort, requiring the astronauts to scramble to “grab that color film!” and how it took a tremendous series of events to “get the shot.”
Narrated by Andres Chalkin, the author of “A Man on the Moon,” enjoy this incredible video, and story, behind the most famous photograph ever taken:

 

 

Quote for Today and Always: “I am Blessed”

A dear friend sent me this quote back in July, and I felt led to share this with you now.
Over on Facebook, a friend just responded to a recent post by simply stating,
“I am blessed.”
After reading the quote this afternoon, I can relate.
Totally.

I earnestly remind you again to thank God every day for things we, so often, take for granted.
Things like electricity, running water, food, shelter, a vehicle (including also a bicycle in my case), and the freedom we still enjoy here in the United States.
Also pray-every day- for Missionaries and Pastors (and Christians) around the world, as they continue to face horrific persecution daily.

Here’s the quote:
I am blessed

The “Dirt” On Creation

Recently, we shared an old email post, one of the “Classics” which I had received many years ago, entitled, “The Scientists and Dirt.”

I think this is the first time I’ve added to one of these shared stories, as I always feel that they stand alone, and I always post them without any introduction or comment.
I pray every day that I will think the right things, do the right things, and say the right things.
“Think right, do right.”

The biggest trouble I seem to always have is not saying the right thing. Usually, this is some light-hearted comment I’ve made, which I meant well by saying, but … I should have been more serious at the time. It’s just that I have so much joy inside, that, often, it “gets the best of me,” and I joke when maybe I shouldn’t. Among my concerns is always this:
If I am perceived as a joker … What happens when I try to share the Gospel … Or, just try to share something which God has done for me?

However … sometimes … even I … yes, me … can say the right thing at the right time. I mean, it can happen, can’t it? So, I had one of those moments recently, which I’d like to share. Something I said … just one word (maybe that’s the secret?) … one moment in time, when I actually said the right thing, at the right time. You know … one of those moments when, to yourself, you give yourself a “high five” …

I was in need of some dirt. No … not “topsoil,” which certain people call it. When I need to fill a hole, or add a new layer … I need dirt, period.
I try to work outside as much as possible in those few weeks we get to do so, and so I am always in need of at least a couple of bags of dirt. Yes, I buy dirt. Don’t laugh: Not long ago, I can remember when the thought of actually buying “water” was far-fetched. I tried digging some dirt from one spot, and filling in another spot, but then … I would have to go back to the original spot and buy some dirt to fill the hole … well, you get the idea.

So I needed some dirt, so I went to the “large department store” in our town. You all know the one: Where you can buy fertilizer and groceries in the same building. You can even put them in the same cart! When it comes to dirt, I just want a bag of dirt … so, I go to where I can get it the cheapest … After all, it’s just dirt …

Anyway, I cruised the parking lot to make sure that the dirt I wanted was there … it was … and, I wrote the price down (yes I did!) to have it ready at checkout …

All I needed was dirt, so I went to the “20 items or less” EXPRESS LINE … Yes, I spent the 20 minutes in line counting the individual items in the carts ahead of me! Finally, after thinking, “Look-I’ll pay the extra for the “price-check,” my turn finally came!!!

After a friendly greeting, I advised that I wanted to buy 6 bags of topsoil … being in the city and all, I figured I’d use language they’d understand. She said something like, “No problem,” and then picked up that black notebook … the one that has all of the items with the barcodes printed, in order to scan my purchase …

She couldn’t find it. I thought about how many types of dirt, or “topsoil” could there be …
How about I just give her the price from my note sheet I had used to record the price from the parking lot? Funny me … I did not think to write down the bar code with the price …

Funny how you don’t mind being there “as long as it takes” when it is you holding up the Express Line … How dare those people think those thoughts about you (which, by the way, were the same thoughts you had when you were 3 back in line) … Anyway, too late to make such a short story short … But, here goes with the whole idea behind the story … How I finally said the right thing at the right time … And, you guessed it … it came without thinking …

The young lady looked up at me, after going through page after page of barcodes … and, she innocently asked, “Who makes it?”
My one word reply:
“God.”

She looked at me with one of those looks I often get:
A cross between, “That’s the greatest line I’ve ever heard,” and,
“This guy is nuts!”

I pray I can be that “nutty” in the future.

Blessings,
R.V.R.
Modern-Day Psalms available at Amazon

Shared Email Classics: The Scientists and Dirt

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.”

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!”

But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.”

The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”

Road Reflections: Part Three

As we were traveling through the Southland, I had the notion that I would just make a list, as we went, of things which I was seeing, and in many cases which I heard, which I don’t see or hear much of, north of the Line. Did I just mention a “Line?” Well … there must still be, because it was clearly marked with signage, and I’ve crossed it at least twice in the last few weeks.

Please note that this is not a “better than” or “worse than” type of recording. It had been years it seemed (even though we were in the Deep South just last Summer) since I had just taken it easy on a trip, taking the time to notice-and enjoy-my surroundings. The United States and its people are beautiful. I have written “Northern Songs” and “Southern Songs” with the same degree of love and devotion. I have written State songs and regional songs, each reflecting the individual characteristics of a particular region. Each state and region has such a remarkable part to play in the vast beauty of our Country. I love the entire United States, its people, and its countryside. I’ve had the opportunity to laud its people and places on many public occasions, including the publication of the new Anthem for American, “The Eagle Still Flies.” I don’t take sides … because I love both sides …

Yes, I’ve gotten it from “both sides” regarding the fact that I lived on one “side” or other. I’ve been made fun of, or ridiculed, from both sides. Mostly good-natured ribbing, but … sometimes I have my doubts …
Well … here goes … I have had well-meaning (I hope) people look me right in the eye … almost in a defensive stance of some kind … and, in speaking of the Civil War … they would, point-blank, ask me, “Which side you on?” Don’t laugh-I’ve had it happen more than once.
Here’s my answer … the only answer which I can give, because it’s the truth:
“Neither … I wasn’t in it.”
My only additional response is usually one of two thoughts, both from the heart:
“There were great men on both sides.”
Or, I will quote Robert E. Lee, who said, “We are all equal at the foot of the cross.”

… Something tells me I’m not going to get to that list …

One of the first things I noticed when I first moved to New England, from the Deep South, is that you just didn’t hear much about the Civil War. I say this honestly, and sincerely. Keep in mind that I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it was just part of your every day surroundings. You are literally surrounded by Civil War history, and its battlefields. In fact, the first real home I remember, and we lived there for several years, was very close to Chickamauga Battlefield, and we were surrounded, every day, by the War’s history. My love for history began with learning about the Civil War. It had to, as I lived where it happened. Growing up, we were just as likely to find a mini-ball as a prized arrowhead.

There is nothing civil about war.

When you are in New England, the war that you are surrounded by, mostly, is the Revolutionary War, and therefore, much of what you see and learn about is about that war. Again, you are surrounded by that history, much like you would be surrounded by the history of whatever area you lived in.

Yes, I’m proud of my Southern heritage, for many reasons, including because of my family, and the way we were raised. It is “just different” being in the South, just like it is different being in the North, or the West, or the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or … well, you get the idea.

And, yes, I got yelled at … in Virginia … in the Shenandoah Valley, at a concert, when the lead singer answered my cry for a particular song … He yelled, “No! No Free Bird!!!” But, the band did break into another Lynyrd Skynyrd classic …

Please allow me to say this: Every place that I have ever lived, every place that I have ever visited, regardless of how close or far, everywhere I’ve been, it was a “different world” there.
Think about this: Everywhere I’ve ever worked, regardless of what state or city or region, that place was its own, different world. I’ve worked at fast food places and large retail chains. Plus, it seems that everyone that I’ve ever talked with about their job, they all say pretty much the same thing:
“It’s its own world.”

Something else: Every place, every town, every city, every “where ever” that I’ve ever lived in, I have heard the same, exact thing: “If you’re not born and raised here …”
I hate to break the news, but, individually, we really don’t have any control over where we are born. And, if I’m not mistaken, individually, we also don’t have any control over who our parents are …
Yet, I still see it all the time, and so have most of you. There was a lady who ran for a public office for a city which we had moved to. Now, I love this lady, and she was really the first person we met when we visited that particular town, when we were just “looking around.” We all hit it off immediately, and I report this only for the example, as I still highly respect her: In the ads she ran to get people to vote for her, this was her platform, and the only statement she made to inform the voting populace of her qualifications for high office, and I quote it as closely to exact as I can. Here was her advertised qualifications:
“Born and raised in ________.”

That was it. In her mind, she felt she had to say what would get her the most votes. That’s what a political ad is for, right? I don’t know if it says more about her, or the mind of the voters. Anyway, I use that as an example.
I was even watching the movie “Jaws” recently. And, the sheriff’s wife was having a discussion on the beach, with one of the business ladies from town. Remember that Amityville was an island. The discussion was directed to Ellen Brody to explain that, if you weren’t born and raised on the Island … “Ellen … you’re just not an Islander.”

I am even tempted, to mumble this on occasion, when accosted “up here” by the fact that I wasn’t born or raised here. I fire back something about the Pilgrims … that it was amazing … they weren’t born here either … yet they chose to come here … to this country … for freedom …to live how … and, where … they wished … without persecution …

For some reason, I have always felt that it was more of an honor bestowed upon a town, if a person and family decided to move there. That it would place more emphasis on the fact that they were there by choice … rather than being “bound there” for the rest of their lives ….

Guess I’m not going to get to that list … for now …

Blessings,
R.V.R.
Modern-Day Psalms available at Pastor Appreciation Gifts

Shared E-Mail Classics: “Atheist Diver”

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.

The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body was in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally asked God to come into his life.

As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

Road Reflections: “What a Country!”-Part 2

Simply put, one of the great things about being on vacation is that you get to do things you don’t usually get the opportunity to do. I mean things like sleeping late, taking naps, watching cable television, just not having to adhere to a strict schedule. I believe that success has as much to do with what you don’t do, as with what you do.
Being on vacation also means that you get the opportunity to spend money; to “buy things” you wouldn’t ordinarily be tempted to buy.
Perhaps the greatest “draw” of vacation, being able to just rest aside, is the opportunity to make dreams come true. Things you’ve always dreamt of doing, or seeing, or experiencing. And, yes … sometimes this translates into buying something you never thought you’d ever have …

Well … here goes … I wonder if there is anyone who, as a child, wanted something for Christmas … something, often, the only thing they ever, ever wanted for Christmas … every year, this one thing was all they wanted … and, they were so sure that “this year was going to be the year” … and … they never got it … never … ever … you were so sure that “this was going to be it” … and, it never came …

For me, it was just one thing: “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” Always wanted … always hoped for … never got. Everyone who knew me, knew this was “it.” Carol knows this as much as I … So many years later … I still recall how I wanted … how I hoped for … “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.” From Mattel. They were, after all, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Growing up, I was a big boxing (and wrestling) fan. Loved sports … especially those two, because these were the two sports we were able to watch when I was growing up. It was also a very “hands-on” toy … but, seemed to be more skill than toy … It was one-on-one, just you and the opponent, and the best man would win … Your size didn’t seem to matter, only your skill … each seemed just as capable to “Knock His Block Off!”

We were visiting what was touted as “The Largest Antique Mall on the East Coast.” For whatever reason, these many, many years later, I had this wild idea that I would look for “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots,” as, after all, they were antiques … and, after all … we were on vacation …
This store seemed endless. Undoubtedly, the largest store of its kind I had ever been in. All of a sudden, as I rounded a corner, I came face to face with “Them.” Was it fate? Is this a dream? No, there, in front of my very eyes, were “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.” Out of the box … in the ring … directly in front of me … stood the “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots!” Please note that I had seen them … faced them … beaten them both … in my dreams … but, this was the first time in my life that I had ever seen, in person, “The Original Fighting Robots!”

Nervously, I scanned the surroundings to see if anyone was looking … we were alone … just the Robots, the Ring, and I … my hands anxiously reached for the controls … and there, in the far confines of this Antique Mall … my hands touched, for the first time … the “control sticks” of my dream-come-true … I was overcome with emotion … and, guilt … I don’t like to spend anything on myself, and this is a “toy” … my hands moved down to the string, on which the price-tag was attached … This was within “my limit,” I reasoned … and, after all, we are on vacation … Believe it or not, even for a “dream purchase” such as this, I had set a limit on what I was willing to spend … in the almost impossible likelihood that I would somehow stumble upon such a prize …

What I didn’t know at the time was this: In the exact same store … in a separate location … Carol was also contemplating a purchase … something that she had always wanted … something that she has only dreamed about … but has, for her entire life, eluded her … Her very own … complete … matching … dish set …

Please keep in mind that we have dishes. A lot of dishes. And, such a variety of both plates, bowls, and cups. As someone who is perfectly content with paper plates, the fact that all of our dishes do not all match has never really bothered me. Ever. In fact, I never noticed that they didn’t match. We have plates. We have cups. We have saucers. We have bowls. The fact that they have different designs, some are glass and some are ceramic (I think), etc., has not once ruined a meal for me. Ever.

However … it was the way which she said that she had never had one … but always dreamed of having one … that I heard … I know she had a limit of how much to spend to realize this dream, but, looking into her eyes as she held part of the set … my limit came off … Especially, as I stood there, hunched over the shopping cart, protecting my own “dream” investment of Ring, Rocker, and Bomber.

As we traveled, the first time we had to move from our lodging, I carefully placed my Dream Purchase behind the drivers’ seat in the truck …on top, without any covering … I have only just now realized that the box which I placed the “Robots” on was the box which contained the dish set … Afterwards, I put a pillow underneath the ring … to protect the dish set, of course …

Toshiba Digital Camera

We traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles, including book promotions. They never moved!
Think about this: What better protection for your prized dish set than “Red Rocker” and “Blue Bomber.”
Funny … I didn’t get a single picture of the dish set!
Toshiba Digital CameraI looked on line to make sure I had the correct spelling of “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.”
I found this picture, on eBay, which I wanted to share with our friends. How about this!
Roc em sock em laid backBlessings from the road!