Monthly Archives: March 2014

I Know Jesus Saves … But, Does He Plow? (Part 2)

Miracles all around us. They are happening all the time, and for different reasons. Sometimes for us … sometimes for them … most always for “both” … always the same Source. We’ve all been a part of, and seen, miracles in our lives. Psalms 46:1 says that, yes, “God is our refuge and strength,” but He is also “a very present help in trouble.”

The next verse explains a lot: “Therefore (because of this) we will not fear” (46:2a). Because of this … God’s having helped us in the past … God having proved that He is there with us in every situation … because of His faithfulness to His Word … Because of Who He is and What He is … because of what He’s done for me in the past … because of this … I will not fear now. Because of this … it must mean … it has to mean … it just has to mean … that He is here, with me now … Because of this … I will call on Him … because I know He is there … because He has always been there … He must be … He has to be … here now … He always has been, so He must be here now … after all, He is “a very present help.”

Let’s go back a couple of weeks up here in Northern New Hampshire. To what I hope (as things begin to melt here today) was our last major snow storm of the season. I apologize if I don’t remember the exact day, but they have all looked a lot alike for many months now. I know this was a week or so before Spring, because I remember writing “Tis the Day Before Spring” a week or so after the storm.

I can’t understand how, when I hear the “old timers” talk, how they used to get something like four feet of snow a day … when, a couple of years ago, it was the “snowiest year” on record … and, the most we ever got was 2 feet … I do, however, “get it” when they say this is the coldest on-going Winter they can remember … This winter has been so long, that, as noted above, I’ve lost my memory as to just when “all this” started. I do know that, every year that we’ve been here, we’ve had robins in our yard before Spring … this year, it’ll be April in a couple of days, and no robins yet. So, somewhere in the middle of March, we got a big snowstorm. How big? How bad? Well, the forecast called for somewhere between 12-24 inches. The Winter just hadn’t stopped, and I couldn’t remember the “January thaw” we usually get. I still don’t remember if we got the “thaw” or not … the snow and cold has just all blended together this year, so I don’t think we got one. Maybe for a few hours … maybe … but I must have been at work … So this new storm, on the horizon, was looming …

I am reminded of a heavyweight boxing match, when the challenger has taken so many tough, hard punches, that it won’t take much to “knock him out.” I guess this was the way we were (hey-that sounds like a song!) when this storm came. We had fought so many tough rounds already … it may take less than a “championship” punch to knock us out, here in the final rounds of the fight.

I think it was on a Wednesday when the new snow began to fall. Just the beginning of what was forecast to be a “significant snow event,” with the snow continuing through the evening, overnight, and tomorrow. How bad? It was just before 1:30 that afternoon when the announcement came over the loudspeaker: “School has been cancelled for tomorrow.” Really? This had never happened before … As giddy as I was over the announcement, it also confirmed that this must be a serious storm. Even “old-timers” at the school (sorry for the designation, I mean well) said that they could not remember, ever, a time when School was cancelled THE DAY BEFORE!!! We’ve written often of how much snow we’ve gotten this year, but, we had not had a “snow day” yet this year. Last year, we had one snow day. And, one snow day the year before. Etc.

Anyway, the snow began to fall in earnest. By nightfall, several inches were on the ground … and, on the roads. For those of you who know, it’s not an issue, regardless of how much snow falls, as long as the roads are plowed. Well … this time … because of the length of the “snow event,” and especially since school had been cancelled already, there wasn’t as much an urgency to get the roads plowed. Plus, in such an event, the main roads keep all the resources tied up. Let’s just say I live on a “side road.” Still in the city limits, but off of the last red light, out of town. So, we are among the last to get plowed. I’m not complaining by any means; that’s just the way it is. So, we are on a side road, only a couple of houses, and our road is one long, continuous hill. Our driveway is also one continuous hill. What makes this so difficult in snow is because, when you turn into our road (from the “main road” below), it is at a 90-degree angle, which means that you lose any momentum you may have gained, as you start up “our hill.” Then, when you turn into our driveway, it is another 90-degree angle, so you lose any momentum you may have gained. In a nutshell, if our street hasn’t been plowed, and the snow is heavy, you just don’t stand a chance to make it … until the city has come, and plowed the street. You just can’t gain enough speed in deep snow to make it up the hill, and then, into our driveway.

There have been times, in years past, when we have parked one of our vehicles in the hospital parking lot, about a ½ mile away, because only one of our vehicles could make it up our street.  Let’s say that someone comes home at 5:00 PM, but our street hasn’t been plowed. You just can’t wait until 9:00 PM or later (city is on 4 Hour cycles) to drive home. So, that’s what we’ve had to do. This was before we had gotten 4-wheel drive vehicles.

On this night, in mid-March, I had taken Carol to work, in order to leave the truck in our garage during the storm. The snow kept falling. And, falling. And, accumulating on both the driveway and the roads. It was late, very late, and it was time to pick Carol up from work. They had not plowed our street, nor had they plowed the main road below. Since we are on a hill, it is never an issue of “getting out;” we just roll down the driveway, and then roll down the street to the main road.

On this night, they had only plowed the main highway, at that last red light. I always say, after years of driving in the snow, that you can go anywhere at 15 miles-per-hour. Tonight, I went 10. I was concerned that, even with a heavily weighted truck-bed (I have 5, five-gallon buckets of sand up against the cab, 3 heavy pallets in the middle, and 8 concrete blocks on the rear), I wouldn’t be able to make it back up the hill to our driveway. As I traversed the streets leading up to where I would pick up Carol, it was plain that the city plows hadn’t been out. I was barely able to just get into the parking lot. In fact, even in 4-wheel drive and with all that weight, I would have to repeatedly back up in order to get out into the street, after she got into the truck. And, she was in a “more major” street, certainly, than we lived on. I had to wait. And, wait. She couldn’t leave until her replacement arrived. He was always on time, but this night, he was late. Unusual. This wasn’t like him at all, even though I gave no thought to what he must have had to drive through, to get to work. He finally arrived.

As Carol climbed into the truck, she was praying … praying that Jesus would help us get home … Oh, Boy … then, we had to keep trying, just to get out into the street … a driveway, and street, which were on level ground … she kept praying for us to get home safely … My eyes were on the road, but my ears were on her … praying … knowing that we had one big hill to climb … and, it was evident from her prayers, that we weren’t going to make it without help … She was right, even though she had not seen the hill I’d slid down earlier … but, I knew the same thing … we weren’t going to make it without help … We crossed the intersection at the red-light, and then cautiously worked our way through the snow. Those who have to drive in these conditions know what I mean by “worked.” Carol kept praying; I kept working. We make it through the main road, leading to our street. We had the sharp, 90-degree turn into our street, where we lost any momentum we may have had.

Then, it happened:
It was only later that I realized the significance of what lay ahead of us … I was too busy praying, and gripping the wheel … We were at the bottom of the hill; the truck’s headlights allowing us to see far ahead, up the hill in front of us. There … in the middle of the street … leading to our driveway … was a path … exactly in the center of the road … all the way up the hill … a perfectly plowed path … and, when I say perfectly plowed, it was perfect … dead-center in the middle of the road … it was plowed … not a big, wide swath, which would have been made by a city plow … but, it was narrower, much narrower … just enough for a truck … like ours … to perfectly get through … “Someone” had plowed our street … just our street … the main road (from the red-light) leading to our street was not plowed … if someone had plowed our street and turned around at the bottom of the hill, there was no evidence that this had been done … it was, as if, “Someone,” had just “dropped down,” plowed our street up to our driveway, and disappeared … I thought of the “delay” in Carol getting off work … How the fact that she was late, gave “Someone” time to “work behind the scenes,” which we addressed in Part 1 of this story …

This, now, explains the title of this story.
“Jesus at the Plow?” Aren’t we His hands and feet on this earth?

Recently, I received a beautiful, unforgettable birthday card from my niece, and her family. She wrote “Proverbs 3:5-6” as part of her personalization of the card. Yes, I love these verses: In fact, we have these same verses, with artwork from our dear friend Candy, hanging on the wall of our office. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”The word “direct,” used here in “direct thy paths,” can also be interpreted as “make smooth or straight.”

Even now, I still see that path, plowed perfectly for us … so smooth, and so straight.

By the way … something else my niece wrote, in the card which arrived just before this storm: “Sorry the card is late.” No … I’d say the card arrived just on time … for, “such a time as this.”

Blessings,R.V.R.

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I Know Jesus Saves … But, Does He Plow? (Part 1)

Like all of us, I have witnessed many miracles, and been involved in many of them. If you just look around, really, we are all, every day, surrounded by miracles. My Pastor used to say that, if you don’t think you have anything to be thankful for … just take a breath …

I have been helped so many times, in a miraculous way, my entire life. God’s mercy has protected me, helped me, and, as GA Bulldog announcer Larry Munson would say, “saved my whatchamacallit.” I looked that word up, and it’s in dictionaries.

As we wrote before, if it is important to you, it’s important to God. If it matters to you, it matters to Him. And, nothing is more important to Him than your relationship with Him. Period. I am constantly talking with God, and, yes, most of the time, I do more talking than listening. But, I know His voice … and He knows mine. Psalm 30:10 says, “Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.” He is always there when I call. Even when I don’t call, He is still very much there. And, when He answers my call, I should never forget it … and, should tell others of His faithfulness, at every opportunity. In trouble or not, it is a great thing to be able to call out to Him, and have Him hear. And, it is so important for us to not forget His faithfulness … what He’s done for us in the past … to give us hope for every situation we face in the future. Lamentations 3:21 says, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.”

Sometimes we have to wait … He is working behind the scenes, doing things, making things happen for us … and, we’re not even aware-until later-that He was working the whole time.
Back to Lamentations: “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (3:25-26). Fact is, God is always working “behind the scenes” for us … and, waiting, patiently, to do more. Waiting for our call. Once, years ago in Connecticut, I was backing out of the driveway, something I had done hundreds of times. It was after a big snowstorm, but the driveway was downhill, and I could make it down, in reverse, with my eyes closed. On this morning, I was backing out, straight out of the driveway, and it felt like something grabbed my van, and moved it … slid it through the snow … into the ditch on the right-hand side of the driveway … It felt like it was shoved off the driveway. (Never mind what I said!!!) So, I had to call work (1 ½ hours away), and let them know I’d be late. I had to call a wrecker to get me back up into the driveway. God revealed something to me that I had never considered:
I wonder what it was … what danger would have been ahead … had I left for work on time, and not slid off the driveway? What was out there, waiting for me … within that 3 hour span …? It was then, at that moment, I realized something I’ve never forgotten. How many things … how much trouble … how much pain and suffering … how many circumstances does God keep us out of … away from … that we don’t even know about? What was revealed to me that morning was this:
More times than I could ever imagine. We would be amazed at the things we can’t see … we’d be stunned to learn of all the times that what we considered to be “inconvenient” to us, was just a ploy to “buy time” to allow other things to happen … to protect us, and, even save our lives. We’ve all heard stories of people who over-slept, had unexplained car trouble, missed a bus or train … and, because of that … they were spared or saved from disaster. So, that’s what I’m talking about.

I think back to so many times when “someone just showed up” to help me. I know that you can think of all those times too, that something like that has happened to you. What amazes me, is that when I look back over the years … even when I wasn’t living for God … God still protected me … kept me safe … knowing that, one day … “for such a time as this …”
I can feel those words touching you, as well. God is so good, so loving, and so merciful … we never deserve it … but think about all of those times when, “humanly speaking,” we really didn’t deserve it. He protected us … kept us from certain disaster … knowing that, “one day …”

I am reminded of Psalm 63:7: “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”

I can’t stress enough how important this message about God keeping His hand on us, even though we aren’t serving Him, is. Protecting us, keeping us from harm, having His hand on us … even though we had no idea at the time. I think of Paul, when he was Saul … in spite of that he was doing … think about it … God protected him, kept him from those who would have done him much harm … knowing, that one day …

Just a short story to close: I remember a time, yes, in “the bad old days,” I was with a couple of friends. We weren’t criminals or breaking many laws, but we weren’t driving around handing out Gospel tracts, either. Let’s just say we were making a speedy exit from a residence we had spent the last few hours visiting. I was driving, and, somehow, I managed to run off the road into a ditch. It was imperative for us to leave the area quickly, but, there we were, in a ditch. From out of nowhere, a truck passed us, stopped just ahead of our vehicle, and then backed up to just in front of our car. We thought we were done for. I know we all thought, “This is it!” A big, big guy got out of the truck in overalls. He looked like he could just lift the car up by himself. He walked up, and this is all he said: “Let’s get you outta there.” He reached in back of the truck, grabbed a chain, and hooked up to the car. He then got in the truck, I got in the car, and he pulled me out. He then stopped, unhooked the chain, and drove off. He didn’t say a word. It was like he was “just sent,” just sent “for such a time as this.” We looked at each other, then up the road … and he was gone. Just disappeared into the landscape.

 I’ve heard and read many of these types of stories, and many of you have them too. This is one of mine. I haven’t thought about that in years. God has to remind me all the time, when I am being judgmental (etc.) over someone’s activities or lifestyle … that I should have compassion … for me to think about Paul … and to think about me … how I was …

I am so glad He hasn’t changed … He always was there, and always Is there.

Blessings,
R.V.R.
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Shared Email Stories: THE STORY OF “BEAUTIFUL SNOW”

In the early part of the Civil War, one dark Saturday morning in the middle of winter, a young woman, 22 years old, died at the Commercial Hospital, in Cincinnati, Ohio. This young woman had once been beautiful, and the pride and joy of highly regarded parents. She was highly educated and accomplished, and she would have been a shining star in the best of society. But, she was stubborn and willful, and would not listen to warning. She played with fire, and called it “fun.” One day, she awoke to find herself ruined by a fatal mistake which she could not erase. She was fallen.

She spent the rest of her young life in disgrace and shame, and died poor and friendless, a broken-hearted outcast. Among her personal belongings, was found the hand written poem, “Beautiful Snow.” The poem was immediately taken to Mr. Enos B. Reed, who was editor of the newspaper, “The National Union.” On the Sunday morning following the young woman’s death, the poem appeared in print for the first time, within the columns of that newspaper. One of the readers of that newspaper was Thomas Buchanan Reed, who was one of the first nationally recognized American poets. Mr. Reed was so stirred by the anguish, despair, and tragedy of the poem, that he sought out where the young ladies’ remains were taken, and he accompanied the body to its final resting place.  

“Beautiful Snow”

Oh! The snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and earth below,
Over the housetops, over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet.
Dancing-Flirting-Skimming along,
Beautiful snow, it can do no wrong.
Clinging to lips in frolicsome freak,
Trying to kiss a fair lady’s cheek,
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gentle as love.

Oh! The snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go,
Whirling about in maddening fun,
Cheering the heart and dispelling the gloom.
Chasing-Laughing-Hurrying by,
It lightens the face and sparkles the eye.
And the dogs with a bark and a bound,
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive and its heart in a glow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow!

How wild the crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor and song,
How gay the sleighs, like meteors flash by,
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye;
Ringing-Swinging-Dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow,
Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
As to make one regret to see it lie,
To be trampled and tracted by thousands of feet,
‘Till it blends with the horrible filth of the street,

Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Fell like the snowflakes from heaven to hell:
Fell to be trampled as filth of the street,
Fell to be scoffed at, to be spit on and beat.
Pleading-Cursing-Dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy,
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.
Merciful God! Have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like the beautiful snow,

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like a crystal, a heart like its glow,
Once I was loved for my innocent grace,
Flattered and sought for the charms of my face,
Father-Mother-Sisters-All,
God and myself I have lost by my fall.
The vilest wretch that goes shivering by,
Will make a wide sweep lest I wander too nigh;

For all that is on or above me, I know,
There is nothing so pure as the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that this beautiful snow,
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be when the night comes again;
If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain.
Fainting-Freezing-Dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan,
To be heard in the streets of the crazy town,
Gone mad in the joy of the snow coming down!
To be and to die in my terrible woe,
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.

Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner, despair not, Christ stoopeth low,
To rescue the soul that is lost in sin,
And raise it to life and enjoyment again.
Groaning-Bleeding-Dying for thee,
The Crucified hung on the cursed tree,
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear,
“Is there mercy for me? Will He heed my weak prayer?”
O God!  in the stream that for sinners did flow,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Story and poem taken from:
GOSPEL TRACT SOCIETY, Inc.
Independence, MO

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In Pictures And Words: ‘Tis The Day Before Spring

Well, here we are … both the snow and temperatures falling on this night before Spring 2014.
16 pictures are worth a lot of words, so here goes:

I went outside last evening and took the pictures you see here. Don’t worry: Not a lot has melted since. While this isn’t such a “big deal” to us here in the Great North Woods … there are people who still find it hard to believe … I tell them about the snow up to the garage roof … the amount of snow still on the ground … the temperatures … etc. … We talk to people who have never seen a pellet stove, so we put in a picture for them. So, for our friends all over, here’s a look at how it is here … the day before Spring. Don’t worry: We are under a Winter Weather Advisory, with a 100% chance of snow … As I look at the days ahead … I see below zero, snow showers … the usual …
We talked to friends in Rhode Island last night (only some 250 miles south), and they had no snow on the ground …
I went back in, and after a warm-up by the stove, I went to the office and wrote “Tis The Day Before Spring.” Except for Carol, last night, you will be the first ones to see the words in print.

So, enjoy the Pictures … and the Words … as, it is, yes, it ‘Tis The Day Before Spring …

It is up to the garage roof!

It is up to the garage roof!

The path, passing the garage, leading up to the shed.

The path, passing the garage, leading up to the shed.

I can't believe it!

I can’t believe it!

I still can't believe it!

I still can’t believe it!

Let's go to the clothesline!

Let’s go to the clothesline!

I think we're gonna need the dryer for a little longer!

I think we’re gonna need the dryer for a little longer!

Here's a look at the top stairs, coming up to the porch. We don't get many visitors.

Here’s a look at the top stairs, coming up to the porch. We don’t get many visitors.

Here's the bottom two sets of stairs. No one coming to see us today!

Here’s the bottom two sets of stairs. No one coming to see us today!

Here's a look at the icicles under the porch. Note wind chimes on left.

Here’s a look at the icicles under the porch. Note wind chimes on left.

The view from under the porch. I can't believe it, either! We're gonna need a taller porch.

The view from under the porch. I can’t believe it, either! We’re gonna need a taller porch.

A look at the layers of snow off of the driveway. This our guest parking area. No one coming today.

A look at the layers of snow off of the driveway. This is our guest parking area. No one coming today.

I couldn't find anything else to give you an idea of the depth of the snow.

I couldn’t find anything else to give you an idea of the depth of the snow.

This is the path beside the garage. Made it myself!

This is the path beside the garage. Made it myself!

Never thought a boot could be so interesting. Got these at Wal-mart!

Never thought a boot could be so interesting. Got these at Wal-mart!

Always final destination: Here's the pellet stove. Heats the whole house.

Always final destination:
Here’s the pellet stove. Heats the whole house.

‘Tis The Day Before Spring
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

‘Tis the day before Spring
And I have yet to hear a robin sing
Or even seen my red-breasted friend
I keep hoping, as April nears, both are just ‘round the bend

Great! The calendar foretells of Spring’s arrival
But not before another Winter revival
3 to 5 inches may fall tonight
Tomorrow is Spring … at least tomorrow is in sight

Old Man Winter got old months ago
Even he grew tired of the snow
I wonder where he would take sanctuary
As we suffer through the third month of January

Wait! Tomorrow will bring a break in the snow!
Even Winter must, for a moment, find somewhere to go
To rest up, and return again soon
For, after all, it’s not yet June

I’ve lost count of the nights in a row
That our thermometer hasn’t risen above zero
So let’s get out our shovels, our plows, and all sing
For today is the day … the day before Spring
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
3/19/14

P.S. I think I’ll go down and sit by the stove, and read a book:

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Words Over Wind: Jesus Saves

Well … here I go again … I sat down to write about a miracle which Carol and I experienced earlier this week, and God gave me this to share first:
By the way, the original title of this post was to be, “I Know Jesus Saves … But, Does He Plow?”
It was about a “Miracle in the Snow,” but God wants me to share this first:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned with my walk with God, it is this:
If it is important to you, it is important to God.
If it matters to you, it matters to God.
That’s why He always wants to be “part of the conversation.”
He always wants to be your first option; not your last.
He wants to be your first choice; not your last.

So often, we turn to God as a “last resort,” only after everything we’ve tried has failed.
Even as Christians, sometimes, it seems like we have this built-in response to situations that ends something like this: “OK, God, I’ve tried everything else, and it hasn’t worked … Will you please help me?”

Please know that, regardless of what you are going through, Jesus is right there with you. Always.
Psalm 46:1 says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Yes, our refuge and strength, and, in times of trouble, He is always “present.”

I remember once, a long time ago, I was living in a mobile home, way out in the middle of the woods, and, in the middle of a severe storm, with tornados all around, it felt like the house was going to be lifted off of its foundation. The mobile home was “tied down,” but that wouldn’t keep the walls or roof intact. I went to the center of the house, the bathroom, and prayed. I mean I really prayed. The wind was whipping all around, a constant roar, the walls were shaking, and the rain sounded like bullets hitting the house. I could hear crashing sounds, but the wind was so strong and loud, you couldn’t tell which direction the noise was coming from. I can’t tell you the number of tragedies I’ve witnessed or read about as a result of tornados (or, “tornadoes”- both are considered proper plurals), and, as I sat there in the dark, the world around me shaking, I thought of all those stories and experiences. I prayed. Hard.

(Personal note from present time: Carol and I were married in Ringgold, GA. A couple of years ago, the area was hit with three tornadoes within a few hours span. Most of the downtown area, in the area where we were married … was destroyed … it just didn’t exist anymore … I know what it’s like … that feeling you get … every time a storm approaches … and, I mean every time a storm approaches …)

At that time, I had many, many dogs, and the dog pen was located about 20 feet or so from the house. I was as worried about the dogs as I was about the house. They had shelter and safety, but not from the large trees which surrounded us, and I could not hear anything above the storm. There was just no way to go outside to check on them. Keep in mind, also, that with a severe storm comes lightening. And, lots of it. What about those crashing sounds? At times, the crashing sounds drowned out the wind. Even after the major storm ended, the lightening, wind, and hard rain continued.

I remember that this was a Saturday night, and, as is often the case, the Sunday morning dawned with a clear, bright, sunny sky. First thing, at daylight, I ran outside … sure enough, the crashing sounds I heard were trees … large trees … and limbs … and, they were scattered around the property. First … the dogs … they were fine … no damage at all to their pen or shelter …

However … what struck me, as I surveyed the damage … was how the damage was “all laid out,” especially where the two huge oak trees had fallen … One had fallen along the driveway, but where and how it landed was what was unusual. It had large limbs, and it had fallen just to the left of the electric service line. I was living way back in the woods, and the single line was weaved through the trees to get to the service pole. It had missed, somehow, by inches, the power line. However, the limbs, now on the ground, extended underneath the power line. What this meant was that, “somehow,” as the tree came down … the limbs were “held back” until it passed the power line on the way down. Then, the limbs were, somehow, “released” as they fell to the ground.

There were two trees down … the other tree, and where it fell, was nothing short of a miracle.
I mentioned that there was a distance of some 20 feet between the house and the dog’s shelter.
This large oak, brought down by the storm, fell exactly between the two. I remember drawing a map of where the tree fell, in relation to the house and the dog pen. It landed exactly in the middle. Because of the reach of the limbs, and this being such a huge tree, a couple of inches either way … and either the house, or the dogs, would have been gone. It fell, literally, perfectly, as if placed there … on purpose …

This was Sunday morning, so off to church … it was also a miracle, with the amount of trees falling all around, that the entire driveway was clear … a driveway of some 500 feet or more … not a single limb blocking the way …

It was during praise and worship that God spoke directly to me … let’s face it, most of my mind was on the storm clean-up, and wondering “what might have been.” But, God broke through and gave me this message … clearly … A totally unplanned message I then delivered to the congregation:

“If it’s important to you, it’s important to Me. If it matters to you, it matters to Me.”

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

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Classic Video Presentation: Red Skelton Explains the Words to “The Pledge of Allegiance”

Recently, we wrote/wondered how often, as “regular citizens,” we hear our National Anthem (outside of sporting events), or hear/read/see the fundamental founding documents of the United States, such as the Preamble to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, etc. I can remember a time when every student had to memorize these, and recite them … including the Gettysburg Address.

So, I wonder about the Pledge of Allegiance. I am blessed to work in a School, and we recite the pledge every morning. This morning, for example, I led a class of kindergarten students in reciting the Pledge. It is my understanding that this is a regular part of most school’s morning schedule. Many schools also will feature the National Anthem at least once a week.

So … if we weren’t in School … for those of us who don’t work in a school … when would we ever hear or say, or see the words to “The Pledge of Allegiance?” I do understand that Congressional sessions open with the recital of the Pledge, as do many government meetings at local levels, and meetings held by many private organizations. A friend of mine, for example, is involved with Veteran and military organizations, and she tells me that the Pledge is included as part of the opening ceremony at various meetings of these groups.
 
So, I wonder, for the majority of citizens … how often do we hear or say the pledge? Outside of school, I’m trying to remember where I may have seen the words to the Pledge posted.

Many of us know the history of the Pledge, being composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the Pledge in 1942. What I didn’t know was where the phrase “Under God” came from, as it wasn’t part of the original pledge, but was added (on Flag Day) in 1954. Here’s what I have read about the phrase “under God,” and how its addition to the Pledge came about:  

Louis A. Bowman, an attorney from Illinois, was the first to initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge. He was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, “under God.” He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”

Prior to February 1954, no endeavor to get the Pledge officially amended succeeded. There were some United States presidents who honored Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by attending services at the church Lincoln attended, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, by sitting in Lincoln’s pew. On February 7, 1954, with President Eisenhower sitting in Lincoln’s pew, the church’s pastor, George MacPherson Docherty, delivered a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address titled “A New Birth of Freedom.” He argued that the nation’s might lay not in arms but its spirit and higher purpose. He noted that the Pledge’s sentiments could be those of any nation, that “there was something missing in the pledge, and that which was missing was the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life.” He cited Lincoln’s words “under God” as defining words that set the United States apart from other nations.

The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954 (Flag Day), by a Joint Resolution of Congress, and President Eisenhower signed the bill into law.

On January 14, 1969, on his weekly television show, Red Skelton gave a remarkable performance, explaining the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Here’s the way it looked,
45 years ago:

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Man to Man … Oh, Man!!!

I have often written how I’d like to be … the man I’d like to be … How I want to think right, act right, and speak right … To be, in every way, more like Jesus. I know that in order to do this, I must pray more … study my Bible more … to be more-like Jesus. To see other people, and myself, the way Jesus does.

During personal speaking engagements, I try to always open with this:
“First, I’d like to say that I love Jesus.
I think we need more men who will stand up and say, ‘I love Jesus.’
I love my wife.
I think we need more men who will stand up and say, ‘I love my wife.’
I love my family.
I think we need more men who will stand up and say, ‘I love my family.’”

I have not been the best “relative” a family could have. I don’t write letters often, and, even less, use the telephone to call. I spend so much of my time writing for “others,” that I fail to put pen to paper, to write to those which mean the most to me. Which also means that I don’t get many “return” letters. I get emails and letters from my readers, which I try to always, immediately “jump on,” which takes a lot of precious time. So, those to whom I should write to, on a regular basis, don’t get a letter, or phone call, as often as I’d like. I stand convicted.

However, this does not take away from how meaningful any letter or telephone call I get from relatives means to me. I am a rare sort, I guess. I am reclusive and private; yet, there is nothing I enjoy more that being with people. I won’t talk much to a stranger (someone I don’t know), but, I will spend hours speaking in front of a crowd of people whom I don’t know.

Again, even though I am not good at writing letters or making those phone calls, when I receive either, it means “the world” to me. Like I really do belong.

I’d like to share with you a portion of a letter I received, several months ago (well over a year), from a favorite relative of mine. Yes, we all have favorites. This is a young man who has a beautiful wife and daughter. I won’t go into many specifics, as not to embarrass him (in a good way). I can remember when he was born, as I was “grown up” when he entered this world, so this will give you an idea of the age difference between us. I just want to share a part of a letter he wrote to me, following a visit I had made to Georgia, and had the thrill of visiting his home, and spending unforgettable time with him, and his family.

To prove how “too busy” I get, I have the beginning of this post saved as “Next Blog Post,” from January 14th, almost a full 2 months ago … The letter itself … I received … 11 months ago!!! It has been there, waiting … “for such a time as this.”

Within the words of this young man, I found the definition of what “a man” really is.
He began with words about Carol, which, if I repeated them, it would embarrass her (in a good way). He ended his praise of Carol by thanking her “for being a role model for my wife, my sister, and my child.” I add these words because that is exactly what I would say about Carol. Plus, she’s such a great role model for me.

What followed was the best definition of a “real man” I have ever read. Now, keep in mind, this is from a young man, who has everything in life … beautiful wife, child, home, etc. … What more could he need, according to the world’s standards? What more could he want? Here are his exact words:

“ … As I get older, I’m starting to realize what a real man really is. A real man puts his faith in Jesus Christ daily. He loves his family to the extent that he begins being concerned about their eternal security. A real man wants to set an example for those he cares about, a Godly example. He’s faithful to his Lord, ‘instant in season and out.’ He isn’t scared to say how he feels, who he loves, who he misses …”

I had just never read a better definition of “what a real man is.”
Wow! Yet again, I stand convicted, the elder, learning from the child.
Yes, a child … a child of God!
A real man, with real feelings, with a real hope in a living, breathing Savior!

If I could write like that … I’d write like that!!!

Just this simple letter … in simple words … carries the weight of all eternity, and the hope for every man, woman, and child. I think, “Am I living up to his words?” It’s enough to make someone cry, “Uncle!” Yes, enough to see the wisdom of putting our faith-daily, I believe he wrote- in Jesus Christ. To love his family enough to care about where they spend eternity. And, to be an example.

I can’t help but think of a promo like, … “If you only read one letter this year …”

This letter, I have read. Again, and again. And, that’s just today.

Real men love Jesus.
Real men love their wife.
Real men love their family.

Man, oh Man!!!

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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