Prayer Returns to Public Schools

Hi Friends:

This is another one of those times when I ask you to place the title in context.

There is a thought which says that prayer isn’t allowed in Public Schools.
There is also a thought which says that God isn’t allowed in Public Schools.
Both are just not true. Why?

I go to School every day.
I pray in School every day.
I bring God with me to School every day.
I am reminded of a story told by Evangelist R.W. Schambach:
A man enters a church, sits down, and remarks to the lady sitting next to him, “God is in this place.”
The lady turns to the man, and in a voice which only Rev. Schambach could replicate, says, “How do you know that?”
The man answers, “Because I brought Him with me.”

Yes, there are two distinct problems surrounding this “prayer in Public School” issue.
My Pastor once said that he sent his kids to School to learn about Science, Math, English, etc. Not to learn about God. Again, think of the context. They were supposed to learn about God at home. From Godly parents. I think you can see the problem there.
Then, let’s go back to this “I bring Him with me” issue. The ones who have learned about God, even know God … don’t act like it, once that bell rings. Again, this won’t fit everyone, but please understand the context here.

So, here it is, today. January 20, 2017. Inauguration Day here in the United States. What I wish is that everyone in the United States would learn about how governments are in other countries around the globe. That every American citizen would learn about what is happening “everywhere else.” Again, context. How so many nations are in political turmoil. How Christians are being killed, just because it was “found out” that they were Christians. How, in so many countries, it is illegal to convert to Christianity … how much suffering is going on … and, hopefully, everyone would realize how “good we’ve got it” over here. How many countries have their media “state-run.” Etc.

What I am getting at, is how blessed we are, to have a day like today. Something we’ve heard so many times, but take for granted: “The peaceful transition of power.” The peaceful transition of power.

I am hopeful that many Schools … I would think that all Schools … carried the Inauguration today. I’m not speaking about the Inaugural Address here. I’m writing about the ceremony. Boy … governments love ceremony … Anyway, I would hope, because of the great opportunity to see history, right in front of our eyes … that many Schools carried the Inauguration ceremony today.

Let me get this one out of the way right now: I’m not speaking as a Republican, or a Democratic. I am speaking as an American. An American citizen.

Here goes: I remember, back during the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, as the President was being prepped for surgery, President Reagan looked up at the doctor, which was getting ready to operate. President Reagan said, “I hope you’re Republican.” The doctor answered, “Today, Mr. President, we are all Republican.” I heard this from President Reagan himself.

That’s what I mean. Today, we are all Americans. A remarkable thing has happened. And … it happened right in front of our eyes.

Back to the School … I’ve written how, in our Library, we have a large-screen television, which I use, sound muted and CC on, to carry news, weather, slide shows, and, especially, important news coverage of events happening “right now.” Certainly, an historic event like the Presidential Inauguration, qualifies for “live, streaming” coverage … with sound …

So, that’s what we did today. First thing this morning, I tuned the television to continuous, live coverage of the events, with sound … I must admit, I learned a lot, and was captivated by the historical tidbits the news anchors shared … I learned a lot …

If what I saw, and heard, happened in every Presidential Inauguration, then I may be saying too much about something that happens every Inauguration. But, for some reason, this one seemed different. The amount of prayers. The mention of God. And, especially, the mention of “the name of Jesus.” I mean … I heard Jesus mentioned a lot. Even “the powerful name of Jesus.” Somehow, it seemed like God was mentioned more this time … there were more prayers … the name of Jesus … more than any Inauguration I can remember.

So … innocently … and, I do mean innocently … there I was, with the television on, loud enough to be heard throughout the Library … and, as the ceremony got underway … time, and again … I heard a prayer … I heard Scripture being read … live on television, beaming out to the world … including Schools … prayers … Scripture being quoted … God being mentioned … a lot … Jesus being mentioned … a lot … the name of Jesus … being called on … in front of me … in front of the School … in front of audiences all around the globe … the name of Jesus … “in the name of Jesus” being said on many occasions … right in front of me … on television … in public … at a government ceremony … right in front of me … on television … in Public School … my School … it seems like there were three separate prayers before the Inaugural Address, and three prayers after the Address …

I heard “America the Beautiful.” I heard prayers. I heard Scripture being read. I heard our National Anthem. Ok, I’ll say it … when was the last time you heard these two songs during the same program? Yes … I heard our National Anthem many times last weekend … Football, remember?
I heard … yes, I heard and saw … the Mormon Tabernacle Choir … When was the last time, on National Television, you heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?

Quickly, allow me to mention this: One of my teacher colleagues, who is not a Donald Trump fan … I heard him proclaim, after the Republican Convention, “If he gets elected, I’m moving to Canada” … this same teacher, as an American citizen, could not believe that there were government officials who were not going to the Inauguration … this same teacher, who understands the importance of this “peaceful transition of power,” regardless of political beliefs … joined me, in the Library, during the Inauguration Ceremony … when the announcement was made to “please stand and honor our country during the singing of our National Anthem” … this same teacher, stood with me, side-by-side, during the singing of the National Anthem … I’ll never forget it … I also have made the decision, during televised sporting events, regardless of how comfortable I am, to stand during the Anthem … and, Monday, I plan to just walk up to him … and shake his hand … because he “gets it;” it’s not about “me,” but about “us,” as in United States …

So, today, there is a School-wide event, so I leave the television on in the Library, lock up, and head to the gym … When I left the Library, the Inaugural Address and benedictions had ended, the former President and First Lady had left the ceremony, and the Parade would follow … I lock up, again, leaving the television on, and enjoy the School event in the gym … When I return to the Library, as I enter, I can hear the television … but … it’s not coverage of the Parade being covered … it’s rioting, taking place, just a couple of blocks from the White House … rocks are being thrown at police … businesses have been damaged … a riot is taking place …

I don’t know what to say, or think … this is the United States, this is Inauguration Day, and this is less than 2 blocks from the White House … I hear, and see, reports about rocks being thrown at police … rocks being thrown at police …

Boy, does our country need prayer. Need to hear the Scripture. Need Godly examples. As I write this, I don’t know how all this turned out. I do know this: Many people can’t handle freedom. Even “the peaceful transition of power.” There are people who don’t have “peace within;” didn’t have it then, don’t have it now … won’t have it later, until they know this “Prince of Peace,” this “Jesus;” the One of whom so many heard the name of today … in the Library … in Public Schools … all across the globe …

Here goes: The Inauguration happened in Washington, D.C. If it had been held in any other city, yes, any other city, there would have been people to “show up” there as well … there will always be “those people” who can’t wait to throw rocks at police, or throw a brick through a business window … they’ll even travel for the opportunity … if this is a “demonstration,” it certainly is … let’s say that again … if “making your point” involves the destruction of property, or throwing projectiles at police … it certainly does “demonstrate” something …

Just 4 days ago, we celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral; begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it … Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness … War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.”

God, help us. As I heard in the Inaugural Address, as all the world heard … as Schools all over America heard, from our President, the most important “help” we can get … is from God …

Blessings to you, and your family.
And, God, please, bless America

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

A Beautiful Life with Beautiful Words: Hee Haw Gospel Quartet

Hi Friends:

Well … This may be the first time in recorded history in which a video by Elton John is followed by … The Hee Haw Gospel Quartet …

Yet, it confirms the fact that, many times, it is only the words of a song, the words of a poem, which can comfort us, can encourage us, and can help us, in those most difficult times of our life. The power of a song, the words of a song, just can’t be under-stated. And, it seems, the more difficult the time … the more a particular song can, and will, comfort and encourage us … To illustrate this further, just think about the “best times” of your life … how hearing a song, from “that time,” can “take you back” and bring a smile. In the same way, a song which ministered to you, during a difficult time, can make you think back to how God “got you through it,” and, how, just hearing that song, maybe even years later, can bring to remembrance how faithful God was then … and, is now …

I think back to an interview I heard, years ago, on Public Radio. It was in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The interview was with a singer from Canada. It was a major point, at the beginning of the interview, to bring up the fact that the first song this singer sang, as she greeted the audience, was a Gospel song … even though she wasn’t known as a Gospel singer … The song she sang was “The Old Gospel Ship,” which begins with the lines,
“I have good news to bring
And that is why I sing”
She explained how the audience just needed to “hear good news;” they were just so anxious to hear “good news.” I’ll never forget that statement.

So, anyway, a few weeks ago, I had one of those “really, really bad days.” We’ve all had them, and this was “my day.” I was frustrated, angry, upset, etc. Bad day. I sat down at the computer, and pulled up a folder on my computer, which I use to put everything into, which I am storing to use later. I have many videos in there, and all videos I share, including this one, come from that folder. Anyway, on that day, of all the videos to choose from, this was the video I chose to listen to, first. It just blessed me, comforted me, and gave me hope. Now, I know that I had hope “when I walked in,” that I was already so blessed-regardless of the day I was having … I know all that …. But, listening to this song … well, on that day, at that time, when I needed “a little good news” the most … it was this song which helped. Before the song was over, I had forgotten my troubles, and, just smiled … yes, smiled, in the midst of despair, as I “heard” what this song was saying …

Here we go: It’s the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet … Tennessee Ernie Ford, Granpa Jones, Stringbean, and Roy Clark … and, oh yes … I see George Lindsey and Gordie Tapp …
and, I still feel the words to the song …

One more thing:
I had a great day today … but, many didn’t. On that “bad day” I referenced above, many were having great days. I think the true power of a song is when the same song can touch your deepest emotions … on either a bad day … or a good day. I’ll write more about the show, and the singers, later. For now, here are the words to “A Beautiful Life,” written by William Golden.

A Beautiful Life
William M. Golden

Each day I’ll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need
My life on earth is but a span
And so I’ll do the best I can

Life’s evening sun is sinking low
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

To be a child of God each day
My light must shine along the way
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul

Life’s evening sun is sinking low
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

The only life that will endure
Is one that’s kind and good and pure
And so for God I’ll take my stand
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand

Life’s evening sun is sinking low
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

I’ll help someone in time of need
And journey on with rapid speed
I’ll help the sick and poor and weak
And words of kindness to them speak

Life’s evening sun is sinking low
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

While going down life’s weary road
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load
I’ll try to turn the night to day
Make flowers bloom along the way

The song: 

Pastor Appreciation Gifts

The Passing of Time, Years, and Diana, Princess of Wales

Hi Friends:

Amazing how time just goes by … seems like just yesterday … Is it just me, or do these two phrases automatically become part of our vocabulary as, well … time goes by. Anyway … it seems like just yesterday …

I’m going to share a video I had planned to share just after the 2016/17 football season began, prior to NFL week 1, and now, here it is, just after the New Year. Amazing how time just goes by … it seems like just yesterday …

It was the first week in this past September when I came across an article on ESPN about how, coming up, it would be the first time a football season would open without both Tom Brady and Payton Manning starting at quarterback … The article then went on to “take a look back” at what was happening on that opening weekend, August 31, 1997. Believe it or not, August/September 1997 was 19 years ago. 19 years ago … Amazing how time just goes by … seems like just yesterday …

Of all the news going on, on that weekend, 19 years ago, it was the news of the sudden death of Princess Diana which I remember the most. The events of that Saturday night, the week that followed, and the funeral held in London on Saturday, September 6, are still clearly etched in my memory. 19 years. The strong emotion I feel now, and felt while researching the facts to share in this writing, and then in putting this together, have surprised me, at their strength-and vividness. I will just never forget that week, in 1997, 19 years ago.

I write often about the power of a song, or a poem, really, any type of writing, to reach “deep down” within our very souls and beings; the ability to reach our deepest emotions. It is the beauty of such a gift to “bring this out,” even, yes, if it hurts.

I can’t fully explain why I, and so many the world over, felt such a personal connection with Princess Diana. In my case, maybe because we were close to the same age, and her story is so remarkable. When Lady Diana Spencer, at the age of 20, married Prince Charles, I was in broadcasting, and it was the biggest news event, up until that time, that I had been exposed to. And, this was after the hostages were freed from Iran. I still remember the special “commemorative” materials supplied by ABC news, covering every minute detail of the wedding, and the participants.

Diana’s wedding to the Prince of Wales, on July 29, 1981, was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The wedding was held there, instead of Westminster Abbey, because the Cathedral would hold more people. Over 750 million people watched the wedding on television. 600,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple on their way to the ceremony.
For generations, this was, truly, considered a “fairytale” wedding.

Princess Diana seemed to always be in the public eye, and she was considered “the world’s most photographed woman.”

It was Saturday night, August 31, 1997. I had turned on the television, a small black and white portable TV which had something like a 6” screen. I didn’t watch much TV, even then, but, because it was the only “live” show on television, I always tried to watch Saturday Night Live. It was around the 11:30 mark when NBC News broke in with a special news bulletin. There had been a car crash in Paris. No confirmation yet … but … then, the news broke:
What had been feared was officially confirmed:
Princess Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris. With her in the car, also killed, was her companion, Dodi Fayed. The driver, Henri Paul, acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, was also killed in the crash.

The news hit me hard. And, yet, I couldn’t exactly explain why. I also knew how big a world-wide event, and story, this was. Yet … I had no one to call. I felt like, so many others around the world, after hearing this news, that I had suffered a personal loss. I can’t explain it, but, something inside me shattered. How personally did this affect me? It was around 11:45PM, and I called my Mother. Yes, I did. I mean, I had to call someone, right? Yes, I woke her up.

Princess Diana’s funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on Saturday, September 6, 1997. Using that same little black and white television, I watched it all. Several hours of global coverage, and I still remember a lot of it.

Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey. More than one million people lined the streets of London. I spent hours watching the procession.
The British television audience totaled 32.10 million, which was one of the United Kingdom’s highest viewing figures ever. Worldwide, two billion people watched the funeral, making it one of the most watched events in history. That’s 2 billion people: The earth’s entire population at that time was 5.8 billion people.

According to news reports, a set of rosary beads was placed in Diana’s hands. Those beads were a gift she had received from Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 … just 1 day before the funeral of Princess Diana.

Originally, it was planned for Princess Diana to be buried in the Spencer family vault in nearby Great Brington. However, Lord Spencer was concerned about public safety and security, with the number of visitors which could overwhelm Great Brington. It was decided that Princess Diana would be buried where her grave could be easily cared for, and visited in privacy, by members of the family. Princess Diana’s grave is on an island within the grounds of Althorp Park, which has been the Spencer family home for centuries.

I remember the procession, the crowds, the Royal Family.
I remember Prime Minister Tony Blair reading 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.
I remember the quote regarding the irony of “The Hunter” becoming “The Hunted.”

I remember Elton John.
During the service, Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind,” which had been re-written in tribute to Princess Diana. Elton John had contacted his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, and asked him to revise the lyrics of his 1973 song “Candle in the Wind,” to honor Diana.
This singing of the song is the only time the song has been performed in public.
Just a month before Princess Diana’s death, it was Diana who had comforted Elton John, at the funeral of a mutual friend, Gianni Versace.

Here is what Bernie Taupin was quoted as saying, about writing the lyrics for “Candle in the Wind 1997: “I thought it was very important to project it from a nation’s standpoint. I wanted to make it sound like a country singing it. From the first couple of lines I wrote, the rest sort of fell into place.”

The song, “Candle in the Wind 1997″ was released as a single in 1997, with the global proceeds going to Princess Diana’s charities.
I am holding a copy of that Cassette Single in my hands right now. Clearly on the case is written: “In loving memory of Diana, Princess of Wales,” along with the information regarding the proceeds donated to the charity.

Now, back to Saturday, September 6, 1997.
Here is the BBC feed of Elton John’s arrival at “the Abbey,” and his live performance.
Note that, arriving with Elton John, is George Michael.
Here is the BBC’s coverage of Elton John’s arrival, and performance, of “Candle in the Wind:”


Looking Back, Looking Ahead … But, Not Too Far: Blizzard Ahead

Hi Friends:

What a difference a year makes! Up here in the North Country, so much of how we gauge a year’s events is weather-related. How much snow, how much rain, how cold, how hot. How much oil, or pellets we used last year verses this year. We seem to never be far from an extreme … good or bad.

Most writers seize the time between Christmas and New Year’s to reflect back on the past year, with an eye on what they are hoping for in the next. Whatever plans I, or we, may have had, as we approach the “New Year’s Weekend,” changed dramatically, with the mention of one word … and, of course, it’s weather-related.

The word is “Blizzard.”

Last year (2015), we had a milder Winter, or at least it seemed, until later in the season. I remember painting during November, and doing concrete work in early to mid-December. The temperature has to be at least 40, minimum, to set concrete properly, and I was working on concrete around December 15. This year … well … different. Here’s an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my Dad, the week before Christmas:
“Well, it’s below zero here, and about half a foot of snow on the ground. Our high temperature today was around 5 degrees, and when I got home from School, it was right at zero. A big storm is coming tomorrow, Saturday. Last night, it was around -15 degrees, and the wind chill was somewhere between 35-40 below zero. At least we don’t need to go up Mount Washington to “feel the chill” and those winds. Still one week to go before “Winter.”

The weather in Northern New Hampshire is, in one way, the same as anywhere else I’ve lived:
You wish the Springs and Autumns were longer. And, regardless of how many Winters you’ve been through, when Winter hits … we always seem to be caught off guard, surprised. Like we’ve never been through Winter before, and we’re just not ready. Up here, there is a time, each year, late-Autumn, when you just, simply, put everything else aside … and, “get ready.” Being people, of course, we wait until the last minute … the day before “the storm.” For me, this means things like putting weight in the back of the truck. I have the front of the pick-up truck bed, against the cab, lined with 5 gallon buckets of sand. Behind them, between the wheel-wells, I have 2 heavy-duty 4 x 4 pallets. Between the pallets and the tailgate, I line the bed with concrete blocks. Heavy, I know, but necessary up here. I’ve had the truck bed “weighted down” for a month now, and I’ve needed it since the first day. We’ve had a lot of ice up here, and I mean a lot. This is due to, yes, warmer temperatures (usually it just snows, and that’s it), but after a “warmer day” with rain, it’s back to normal at night, with freezing temperatures. A lot of ice this year.

One thing for sure in the North Country: Every year is different.

Hey … on Tuesday, it was sunny and over 40 degrees. What does this usually mean?
Storm’s coming.

We’ve lived here for 10 years now, and I can’t remember but, maybe once, the word “Blizzard” mentioned in the forecast, and I think it was something like “Blizzard-Like.”

Well … can’t say that anymore.
Just like I learned to never, again, say, “It’s too cold to snow,” or the old, “Yeah, with small snowflakes like that, it won’t lay much.”

For a couple of days now, heading right out of the Christmas weekend, the forecast for later in the week was, for the first time in my memory, just the one word:
“Blizzard.”
The storm starts today, which, relatively speaking, should be a “piece of cake:”
32°HI
Periods of snow, accumulating 2-4 inches

No Problem! But, it’s not today that’s the problem … let’s look at tonight’s forecast, and notice the first word:
29°LO
RealFeel® 5°
Blizzard, accumulating an additional foot; heavy wet snow may bring down trees and power lines
NW 29 mph
Gusts: 50 mph

Notice the sustained wind speed is 29 MPH … but, notice the gusts of 50 MPH. Yeah, the low will be 29 … but … of course … it will feel like 5 …

Of course, I looked up the definition of the word “Blizzard,” from merriam-webster.com:
“a long severe snowstorm; an intensely strong cold wind filled with fine snow; an overwhelming rush or deluge; a large amount of something that comes suddenly.”
Then, I looked up the history of the word:
“The earliest recorded appearance of the word blizzard meaning “a severe snowstorm” was in the April 23, 1870 issue of a newspaper published in Estherville, Iowa. Blizzard shows up again during the following years in several newspapers in Iowa and neighboring states, and by 1888, when a snowstorm paralyzed the Eastern seaboard, the word was well-known nationally. The ultimate origin of the word is still unclear.”

By the way, a “good day” up here is a day in which you don’t have to snow-blow the driveway. If you can get several of these days together … it is a “special occasion.” A few short years ago, I remember a big snow storm before the end of October. I think that was the year we broke the all-time record for snowfall …
The Winters here are long, and always seem like they’re never going to end. You seem to just go from one storm to the next, always preparing for “the next one.”
But, this coming storm seems different. So, yesterday, like so many others, I, too, put aside all plans I had (including writing), to get ready for the storm … the Blizzard. Make sure the snow-blower was all gassed up, etc.

What I thought would be a 10 minute job turned into 4 hours. I started the snow-blower (or, “cranked” as I still say it), and pulled it out to the front of the garage, to put gas in. As I tested the augers (the spinning blades), I noticed that the right-side blades weren’t turning, weren’t spinning. Never mind what I said. A rock had wedged itself between the blade and the frame, and had torn off the “shear pin,” which is the bolt which fastens the blades (augers) to the axle. Yes, there are made to break, to prevent damage. Easy enough, I just crow-barred the rock out, and consulted the manual to check on how to replace the shear pin. I’d had this happen before, but couldn’t remember what to do. Simple … just drive the shaft of the old pin out, and replace it. Ever tried to find a center-punch, when you don’t remember where you put it? Never mind what I said. By the way, it was freezing cold, and getting dark. Anyway, I bent a couple of nails trying to knock it out, but to no avail. It just wouldn’t come out. Never mind what I said. The only choice I had was to try to drill through the bolt, to get it to budge. I broke 3 drill bits (never mind what I said), and finally got it to come out, removing it from behind the blades. By the way, it was freezing, dark, and, working with small parts, I had to remove my gloves. Boy! Those blades are sharp! Ouch! You got it … never mind what I said …
I put the new bolt in (I had gotten extra pins last time), and just needed to get an 11 MM wrench to hold the back nut, as I tightened the top nut. You guessed it: Lined up the MM wrenches … so nice … 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 … Want to guess which wrench was missing? Never mind what I said. I was finally able to use a pair of pliers, and tightened it as best I could. Perfect! So, as I’m trying out the new shear pin, making sure the blades would spin … keep in mind, you have to use the lever on the handle to turn the blades, and you can’t see the blades from there, and the blades stop spinning by the time you run to the front of the machine … Smart me … I use a bungee cord to wrap around the handle, to keep the blades turning while I inspect them. Guess what? The bungee cord broke … never mind what I said …

Anyway, we are as ready as we can be.
Thank God, and I mean this, for having a garage, and for having a snow-blower. And, thanks for the hardware store, which was open this morning. And, thanks for my new titanium drill bits, for my brand new center punch … and, for my brand new 11mm wrench (the last one they had.)

Even with a storm, and even a blizzard coming, we have so much to be thankful for. So much.
I always make it a point to pray for the men on the garbage and recycle trucks. How tough their job is, and it’s always about the weather. I also am thankful for the mailman, and how tough their jobs are. We take so much for granted.

As I was taking Carol to work today, we were, of course, talking about the Blizzard, just ahead. She said what I was thinking, but put it in a way only she can:
“The only blizzard I want to see is at Dairy Queen.”
Well, the closest one is about 30 miles away … and, it’s closed for the Winter.

Blessings to you, and your family.
Now, and always,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Modern-Day Psalm Classic: “You’re My Yuletide Carol”

Hi Friends:
Just thought I’d share both the “Full Version” and the
“Christmas Carol” Version of this song, along with the Introductions to both, which I included in the book.

Merry Christmas!
R.V.R.

You’re My Yuletide Carol
Introduction

People find it hard to believe, but it’s true: I wrote this Christmas song before I had ever met Carol. I had spoken with her often on the telephone, but we had never met. The first time we met was at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, when she was visiting Georgia to attend a concert given every year by mutual friends of ours. I’ve often written of how “I just knew” that Carol was the one I was to spend the rest of my life with.

Carol arrived on a Wednesday night, and the concert was Saturday. She helped me make changes to the work, and our friends hurriedly put the music together, and played this as a special song at the concert. I’ve always envisioned this as a new Christmas classic, sung by someone like Tony Bennett.

I got the idea a few days before Christmas, as I was getting ready for Carol’s visit. I was playing a favorite Christmas album (yes, I still play albums), and, from out of nowhere, the phrase “Yuletide Carols” just seemed to freeze in mid-air. So, I grabbed it, and wrote this in advance of Carol’s visit.

I was asked to include the song in this volume, and I hope it shows some variety in my work. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this song with you. I hope you enjoy it. And, again, I remind you that it’s ok to love your wife! And, to say you do.

You’re My Yuletide Carol
(Full Version)

You’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
You’re my Yuletide Carol
I just want you to know

My Christmas wish comes true
As your plane touches down
I can’t wait, my dear
To show you the town
You’ve been so long in the frozen north
The stairs unfold as my holiday bursts forth

And you’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
You’re my Yuletide Carol
And my heart’s all aglow

As I catch my first glimpse of you
At the gate
I know in an instant
That it was worth the wait
As your smile melted the icicles
From around my heart
I just can’t wait
For my holidays to start

My hopes and my dreams
Won’t be dashed through the snow
Cause you’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so

The nights are no more silent
My heart’s all aglow
And you’re my Yuletide Carol
And you’re as lovely as a bow

Oh! The sights that we will see
All over Christmas town
I’m so thankful that in your arms
This Yuletide spirit I’ve found
Your love is enough
To last the year round

So much to see
So much to do
A few days left
And the holidays are through
You’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
So soon you’ll be gone
Just like the snow

Christmas bells are all ringing
And the skies are so clear
A warm fire is burning
As I hold you near
The light in your eyes sparkle
Like the new fallen snow
The season soon over
Where, oh where, did it go?

And you’re my Yuletide Carol
I just want you to know
You’re my Yuletide Carol
Do you really have to go?
You’re my Yuletide Carol
Let’s just stay under the mistletoe

Time goes by so very fast
If only I could make
Something so wonderful last
You’re my Yuletide Carol
Do you really have to go?
You’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
Yes, you’re my Yuletide Carol
And I, yes I, love you so

You’re My Yuletide Carol (Christmas Carol Version)
Introduction

Remember, the “reason” that Carol had come to Georgia, that December, was to witness the Christmas concert, and, certainly, for no other reason, such as to meet me.

So, in advance of the concert, Carol and I got together and shortened the original, to a “Christmas Carol” version of the song, which was performed on stage that following Saturday night.

I still envision Tony Bennett singing the Christmas Carol version of the song …

It just begs of being sung …

“And you’re my yuletide Carol
And I love you so”

You’re My Yuletide Carol
(Christmas Carol Version)

You’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
You’re my Yuletide Carol
I just want you to know

Christmas bells are all ringing
And the skies are so clear
A warm fire is burning
As I hold you near

The light in your eyes sparkle
Like the new fallen snow
The nights are no more silent
You’ve got my heart all aglow

And you’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
You’re my Yuletide Carol
Let’s just stay
Under the mistletoe

In your arms, this Yuletide
Spirit I’ve found
Your love is enough
To last the year round

Time goes by so very, very fast
If only I could make something
So wonderful last

You’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so
My hopes and my dreams
Won’t be dashed through the snow

And you’re my Yuletide Carol
And I love you so

Merry Christmas!
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Christmas 2016 and What I Can “Do More” in 2017

This past year, as never before, I have felt the calling to pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters around the globe. And, not just pray for them … but, to also learn more about them. To find out where they are, and what they are going through. Plus, to not only “pray for the persecuted,” but to pray for “the persecutors.” To learn about them. Time after time, as I read the stories of those suffering, read about the tremendous hardships and tragedies they must endure, every day, the same request rings true:
“Pray for the persecutors.
Pray for the persecutors.”

I think about the statement I read from Pastor Rick Warren … that prayer is like a guided missile … which can be launched from anywhere on earth … and, reach the heart of anyone on earth … regardless of where they are located, and, regardless of “who” they are.

This time of year, the emphasis is always on how thankful we should be for the blessings we have, for being thankful for “all we have.” I hope we can apply this same spirit of thanksgiving to every day of the year. We shouldn’t only take time to think about our blessings at a particular time of year, but, it should be something that is part of our daily existence, part of our daily prayers, every day of the year. The plight of those “less fortunate” is also something we seem to focus more on, during “this time,” than at other times. Same rule should apply: The plight of those “less fortunate” should also be part of our daily existence, our daily prayers, every day of the year.

What good is what we have, if we can’t share it?
There is no “greater good” than the “good news” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is no greater purpose in life than to share this Gospel, and to support those who share it.

We often share materials we have received from “The Voice of the Martyrs.” Yes, there are many organizations which support persecuted Christians, and I’m thankful for that. Here I am, sitting downstairs, in front of the pellet stove, in a warm home, at the end of a tough work week.
I don’t know what “tough” is. My home isn’t war-ravaged, my neighborhood isn’t in shambles, and I haven’t been forced to move … just because I’m a Christian.
Tough week?
I don’t know what tough is. Here I am, debating over the “agony” of having to bring out the snow-blower … I don’t know what “tough” is. The losses so many have suffered. The pain and agony my fellow believers live through, every day. I’m surrounded by clean laundry (making use of the pellet stove), and I don’t have a clue what it’s like to be displaced from my home, fleeing with only what I can carry, only to live in a distant “camp,” in a tent … I don’t know what it’s like … I don’t have a clue … seeing family murdered … children murdered … only because “word got out” they had accepted Jesus …

Children … Children … Children …

Yes, we support the work of organizations like “The Voice of the Martyrs”
I don’t mind that there are a couple of common themes throughout my writing, and that I write of them often:
Pray every day.
Study your Bible every day.
Pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters every day.
Be thankful for the blessings you already have, every day.
If that’s all you “get” from my writing, I’m ok with that.

It is so important to pray and read the Bible every day. To set aside a time for this, every day.
Often, I’ve written about how important it is to have Scriptural messages, verses, posted around your home (and, even on the visor of your truck) to remind you of great Scriptural truths … things you can’t help but see every day …
It is … after all … about “every day” …

I don’t have a clue about how tough it is for Christians around the world, living in hostile and “restricted” nations.
But … I want to learn more.
I want to learn more.

There are a couple of resources, offered at a minimal price, through “The Voice of the Martyrs,” which I plan to use-every day-of the next year.
I want to learn more, and I’ve already learned so much about what’s going on “over there” through materials I’ve already received from them. I’d just like to share a couple of those with you, a couple of resources I am planning to use, in the year ahead.
I will include a link at the bottom of this post.

One is a “Prayer Calendar.” I love the 2016 calendar I have (which I think was bought at Walmart, on sale), which includes verses and quotes, so often helping me in exactly what I am going through at that particular time.

But … maybe it’s time to not think about me when I look at a calendar … maybe it’s time to think about others …

I will be using their 2017 Prayer Calendar, and here’s why, as I use text from the VOM website:
I will “be guided to pray throughout the year, with a new prayer request for each day of every month. The calendar includes prayer requests for the specific needs of Christians living in hostile and restricted nations as well as prayer requests for their persecutors, that God would change their hearts. When VOM staff travel to meet Christians in hostile and restricted nations, we often ask how American Christians can help them. Their first answer is always ‘Pray for us.’
By giving your Christian friends VOM’s 2017 Prayer Calendar, you will be helping to fulfill the request of our persecuted brothers and sisters every day in 2017. Specific prayer requests are provided for each day of the calendar year, including reminders to pray for the persecutors as Scripture instructs.”

The other resource I will be using is a Daily Devotional called “Extreme Devotion.” Talk about something I can use every day:
“This engaging devotional includes 365 stories of persecuted Christians along with devotionals based on each person’s life. You will be encouraged in your daily walk with Christ through the examples of believers from around the world who have shown extreme devotion in sharing their faith with others.”

Prayer and Bible study.
Remembering our Christian Brothers and Sisters.
Every day.
Every day.

I want to pray more.
I want to study more.
I want to learn more.
I want to remember them more.
I want to do more.
Here’s the link to help you do that:

The Voice of the Martyrs

At the ATM, It Happened Again: “Triple Debit Indebtedness”

Not too long ago, I wrote about how, in just over a month, I had found 2 Bank Debit/Credit cards, and how it made me realize how blessed I was to be “raised right.” To do the right thing.
That particular writing was called “Double Debit Indebtedness,” and told the story of how I had found the cards, well over 100 miles apart: One in August, and one over the Labor Day Weekend.
Well … this past weekend was Thanksgiving Holiday weekend …

It is a weekend I look forward to, all year. 4 days off, and, yes … lots of football. So much to be thankful for, and the joy I take in hearing others just talk about what they are thankful for.
The word “Veteran” came up a lot, and, on Thanksgiving Day alone … I heard our National Anthem on 3 separate occasions, from 3 separate states.

We have so much to be thankful for.
Among our greatest blessings has to be the examples we’ve had, starting with our parents, and continuing throughout our lives, with great examples we’ve been exposed to, that God has brought into our lives.

So … back to the weekend. True to my word, I didn’t leave the house until early Saturday morning, to trek to the grocery store (something I’m also thankful for). Seemed that most of the population was still exhausted from Friday (which is called “Black,” yes, like the Plague), so not many people were out.

Back to work on Monday, and I had to stop by the local bank’s ATM to pick up some cash, to have for the next day, for a collection they are taking up for, at School. Since I don’t carry cash, I never have money to give on the “same-day.”
Anyway, it was Monday, after School, and I was exhausted. I drove up to the ATM, put my card in … and, you guessed it … it wouldn’t go in. There was another Bank card in the machine, left by the previous visitor. I first thought was, “No, can’t be. Not the third time in 3 months.” But, there it was. I took it out, looked at the name, which was hard to see in the twilight. Man! It gets dark early up here!
Plus, even my eyes were exhausted. It never occurred to me that the bank was open, and I could have just pulled around, walked in, to give them the card. Or just pull up to the drive-through. I guess my only thought was getting home to the recliner, and my much-anticipated nap. I did call the bank, first thing, and, yes, they did ask if I could bring the card in. I explained I was already home (hoping they could sense the exhaustion in my voice), and would bring the card in the next day. They said that was ok, just deliver it through the drive-through, which I did, immediately after School the next day.

Once again, it made me realize how thankful I am, to have been raised to be honest. As I write this, it strikes me that I am also thankful that I had 20.00 left in the bank … after the Holiday!
And, as much as I may disagree with some of their policies, I am thankful that we do have banks. And, that we can bank, can do business with, any bank or financial institution we choose. This is another one of those “freedoms” we have, which we take for granted so often. I am also grateful for many of the services they offer, like the ATM, and the technology which exists, which allows us to “use our debit card just like a credit card” (sounds like a commercial, doesn’t it?).

I’m thankful I could write this in the earlier post:
“I was so glad I was “raised right.”
Raised to be honest.
And, that I was taught the difference between right and wrong.
And, yes, taught to work hard.
By the living examples of those who raised me, who were as hard-working as they were honest.
I may have strayed, but they never did.”

Let’s see … A found card over Summer Holiday, a found card over the Labor Day Holiday, a found card over the Thanksgiving Holiday … guess I’ll have to go back to the ATM over Christmas …

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Here’s the link to Double Debit Indebtedness