Monthly Archives: December 2016

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.

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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.

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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

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