Monthly Archives: March 2018

Looking Back at Winter (Through the Rear-View Mirror): Blue Lights and Badge of Blessing

Hi Friends:

We’ll never forget the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We had days, in a row, where the temperature didn’t make it over zero. I mean we had day-time highs of -4. As it always does, when you’re in the middle of these, it just seems like it’s never going to end.

One of those days, when the high temperature was well below zero, and the wind was really whipping … I had a flat tire. Not in the driveway or garage. That would have been too easy. I was on the way home. It was in a 25 mile-an-hour zone, and I felt the tire go flat … that jerking motion of the steering wheel, and then I could hear it. Anyone who has driven with a flat time knows that sound … I was only a half-mile or so away from the Tire Company where I had bought the tires, so I tried to make it. I tried. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t going to make it without losing the tire. In no time, the rim was scraping the ice and sand covered pavement. Anyone who has heard that sound has also felt that helpless feeling that the only place you’re going to make it to, is the side of the road. Yet … and you know what I mean … it was -4, the wind was 40 miles an hour, and, well, being stranded on the side of the road just didn’t seem like an option … I had to try to make it to the Tire Company! Even if it meant pulling in on “all rim.”

Well … the tire and rim was making a terrible noise … and, that’s when I saw the Blue Lights in my rear-view mirror. It was our City Police! I wasn’t going to make it to the Tire Company! Never mind what I said!
It turned out to be a great blessing. The Policeman was one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met. For safety reasons, he had pulled me over. Here’s what he did:
In the freezing, freezing cold, he asked me if I had a jack, and we’d try to change the tire. We found the jack. Those of you who have a truck know about the jack. It’s placed underneath the back seat (a club cab) in a compartment. And, you’re right: They must place the jack and accessories in that small compartment … and then build the truck around it. Tight fit! Don’t worry, I wasn’t able to put it back correctly, either! As an old-time, independent do-it-yourselfer, I was ashamed of the fact that I had to look in the Owner’s Manual to even find out where the jack was. Good ’ol AAA! I must have known at one time, when I first read the manual, but that was a while ago, and I’ve got AAA! Anyway, part of the jack handle is used to “uncrank” the spare time from its holding cell, underneath the truck bed. It’s not really a “holding cell,” just chains, to slowly let down the tire, as you twist the jack handle around and around.

At least, that’s how it goes in the manual. As we said, the spare tire isn’t really covered, under there. It’s completely exposed to the elements of rain, ice, snow, salt, and more rain, ice, snow and salt. What condition do you think the chains and pulley were in? I guess … if you kept your truck in a garage … and, only drove it in 100% dry conditions … not even allowing exposure to dew … this idea of putting the spare under there, uncovered, is a good idea. But, that would be the only way that could be a good idea. Needless to say, the spare tire wouldn’t budge. The Policeman tried multiple times (he had some really good gloves) to get it to drop, but it just wouldn’t. At first, we’d go back to the manual, making sure we were doing it correctly, but it wouldn’t budge. The Policeman said it was probably rusted, and would probably have to be “torched” out. Of course, he was right, and, when I did get the truck towed in, they had to use a torch to remove the spare tire. The chains had all rusted out, and the tire was, literally, welded to the underneath of the truck bed.

So, we couldn’t change the tire, and I would have to call AAA to get the truck towed. The Officer gave me a ride home. I got to ride in the front seat! Near the heater! I will never forget this act of kindness from our local Police Department. I thought of the tremendous responsibility Police Officers have. See, this Police Officer, in a way, was like we as Christians are. We represent our faith, and for those who “run into us” along the way, to them, we represent all Christians. This particular Police Officer was not only an example of our local Police, but an example, to me, of all Police Officers. He was so nice, so caring, and so willing to do everything he could to help me. Yes … he was doing his job (a job, by the way, a lot of us are unwilling to do) … by pulling me over, as I was definitely a safety hazard. But, once he stepped out of his Cruiser, he became much more. Much, much more. As, he did much, much more than “his call of duty.” It’s so easy to say he is a credit to his job, his profession, and our city. Well, if it’s so easy to say … why haven’t I written that letter to the Police Chief? It’s long time I did. As the writer of “Wealth Stored for the Righteous,” in which I write of so many blessings we enjoy every day, and, so often take for granted … have I just discovered another blessing we so easily take for granted? I know that, on this day, this one Police Officer, in below-zero temperatures and a howling wind, would not leave me stranded … would not leave me “out there alone.” Without hesitation, he asked me where the jack was. Without hesitation, he worked and worked, in that brutal weather, trying to get that spare tire down. Without hesitation, he gave me a ride home, and let me sit up front. Near the heater. Without hesitation, he asked if there was anything else I needed.

The only thing I needed, on that day, at that time, was to thank him.

Which I did, and, am attempting to do now. Again, to me, he exemplified not just our local Policemen, but all Police Officers.

As I think back to that cold, miserable day … Ok, I’ll say it, because it’s true … as I look back, I am reminded of something else I am grateful for … something that I don’t thank God for, enough. It’s something that I heard a Christian Brother say as part of a testimony: “I’m not the man I want to be, or am going to be, but I thank God that I’m not the man I used to be.” That’s powerful, and something else I think we take for granted so many times. I’m so glad, so thankful, that when he pulled me over, “I had nothing to hide.” That, alone, is a great feeling, And, a tremendous blessing. Again, think about that statement just a moment. How God has done a great work in us, to change us. Perhaps never is that more evident than when we are dealing with Police Officers. And … I’ll say it … When they are dealing with us. It’s just different, in such a great way. Again, allow me to let that sink in for a moment. God changes us for our benefit, so our lives will be better. And, ready for this … think about it … it makes their life better, too! Think about that.

How many times have we seen on a television show (or maybe even thought ourselves), the person who gets pulled over says something like, “Why are you bothering me, instead of trying to catch criminals?” Let’s just say that, on this day, I am so glad that this Police Officer was right behind me, stopping me, and, yes, blessing me, instead of … being anywhere else.

Often, when I write, I use the term “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

I’ve battled with whether I should mention the Officer’s name. I’m a private person, and I don’t wish to invade anyone else’s privacy. I believe it’s the right thing to do, in this case, to mention, at least the last name of this “Blessing with a Badge.” A man who reminded me that, just as he represents, to me, all Police Officers, that we as Christians also represent “all of us,” a “Royal Priesthood,” at any given time we deal with others. There is that saying that “we may be the only Jesus someone may see.” If we meet a Police Officer, that, too, in a similar way, may be the only Police Officer we may ever meet, and, we may base our whole opinion of the entire “group” just on that one Police Officer. In one case … shall we say this one “cold” case … I’m ok with that. Here goes:

The Police Officer’s last name, who reminded me of my own walk … his last name was:
Priest.

That cold, miserable day, I was so thankful to have Officer Priest in the Hood.

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

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Looking Back (Side) at Winter: Race to the Road

Hi Friends:

As we anxiously awaited the arrival of Spring this year, we couldn’t help but think about how tough this Winter has been. Yet, through it all, we’d always, every day, hold onto that “promise of Spring.”

I don’t think I’ve seen the snow as deep in the back yard as it is now. The snow bank, next to the driveway, which is where we throw the snow, is 5 feet high. I have friends who just don’t have anywhere else to put any more snow. But, that’s how our version of Spring’s arrival looks.

I don’t remember having as much ice as we’ve had this year, and, by that, I mean how the driveway has “iced over” so many times. I remember one Monday, taking the trash barrel out to the road, I didn’t make it down the driveway … at least on 2 legs. About half-way down, I just couldn’t half-stand any farther. I was doing the ‘ol surf-board bend, my left arm extended, and the other hand grasping the handle of the trash barrel, when gravity took over … I ended up sliding, on my backside and side … down the second half of the driveway … ending up in the middle of the road. Me and the trash barrel ended up in a dead-heat at the road, both arriving at the same time. No … I think I made it to the road first!

For a moment, I knew how those guys in the Winter Olympics feel … Unfortunately … it was that guy who symbolized “The agony of defeat.”

And, speaking of “de feet,” I felt even worse, because I had a pair of “crampons” attached to my “big boy boots,” sitting there by the pellet stove. What a life-saver these are. Carol had gotten me these for Christmas, and I have used them a couple of times, when clearing out the ice and adding dirt to the driveway. These are the “strap-on” crampons, with rubber “soles,” which you just stretch over the bottoms of your boots. If you are thinking about buying these, they are worth every penny. It’s like a tool you buy for a particular job, and don’t use very often. But, when you use them, they are well worth whatever you paid for them. I even saw the mail carrier wearing these. I was concerned that there was no way she could walk up the driveway, on a day when the whole driveway was a solid sheet of ice. She got out of the mail truck, and without flinching, proceeded to walk up our driveway, without batting an eye. When she first started up, I was amazed … it seemed miraculous … it was like she was walking on water, which if you think about it (think about it in context here), she was … frozen water. So, anyway, they are worth the money.

So, why didn’t I just slip my boots on, this particular morning? I mean, I walked right past them on my way out the door to take the trash down, and then leave for work. You know why. Because, as I always do, when getting ready for work, I cut it as close as humanly possible to leave at the last possible moment. I mean, like many of you, I have it down to a science. Every second really does count. I don’t wear “tie-up” shoes, slip-ons only, so I won’t have to “waste” 2 minutes tying shoes. Most of my school shirts are of the “pull-over” variety. I’m not mandated to wear a tie, which would be difficult because of what I may have to do, on any given day. This saves me precious seconds spent buttoning a shirt. I have my clothes ready, and lunch made, from the night before. I am constantly trying to find new ways to save time in the mornings. So, I did think about putting on the boots with crampons, but that would have “cost” me precious time, having to deal with the boot laces, and then, having to untie the boots to swap into my school shoes (slip-ons, of course) would have cost me maybe, just maybe, 3 minutes. So, I made the decision to “risk it” and walk/crouch down the driveway, to get the trash to the curb. 3 extra minutes! What would you have done?

While it could have been much, much worse (I know people who broke bones in less of a fall), especially if there had been any traffic at all, I still got my palms and arms bloodied up a bit, but, since I was running late for work … I waited until I got to work to “clean up” and check to see if my clothing had suffered any tears. On the way to work, I used what paper towels and tissues I had in the truck, to get the bleeding stopped and clean up enough to make the walk from truck to building without attracting any attention.

The next part I must place in context. I had slid a pretty good distance on the ice, and, if there was any damage to my clothing, it would be in a place I couldn’t see. When I reached the Library, there were a couple of staff members, which are trusted friends. One of the ladies, yes ladies, had suffered a serious injury from a fall on the ice, a couple of years ago. I mean, she had gotten really hurt from the fall. So, I knew she would understand. She is also a friend of Carol’s, so it seemed ok to politely ask. So, in the best, mild-mannered way I could, I briefly explained what had happened, and would she be kind enough to check out … I mean … take a look at … I mean … well, it wasn’t comfortable, but necessary under the circumstances. I had to make sure my pants weren’t ripped … They weren’t, and only my pride had been injured.

As I flew (I guess you can fly on your rear end) down the driveway, I could really sense God’s hand on me. I really could. The thoughts of so many people, friends I’ve known, who have been hurt by falling on ice, I must admit, raced through my mind. Which made the fact that nothing was broken, or badly injured, mean that much more to me. I may have come close, but, yet again, when I’ve done something stupid, God’s hand was still on me.

Yeah, it’s been a tough Winter. Yet, that’s all the more reason to be thankful. Thanks, literally, to God’s protective hand, we’ve made it through. Yeah, there is still more “weather” to go through … I mean … If I hear one more person tell me how they remember when it snowed on the 4th of July …

Like so many situations in our lives, it is God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us hope for the future. As David said, the same God which delivered me from the bear, and the lion, will deliver me from this …

Again, I can’t remember a time, ever, when I have looked more forward to Spring and Summer …
Yet, as I remember this Winter, what God wants me to remember is that it is a memory … of times past … when He kept His hand on us, and gave us confidence and assurance in the future. A future which He has made possible, and, He will be with us in the middle of Spring and Summer, too.
See, the weather will improve.
I need to improve.
He doesn’t.

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

Traditional Irish Blessing

Hi Friends:

After sharing “The Irish Blessing,” it seems natural to also share this “Traditional Irish Blessing” with you. It features beautiful Celtic music, with awesome scenery to accompany the words. I’ve had this “on file” for over 2 years now, and, as I look at the snow which surrounds us … 3 ‘Noreasters in a very few days … maybe another one on the way early next week … and, as we approach Spring here in the Great North Woods, with the forecast predicting below zero temperatures and single-digit lows to greet our version of “Spring,” I look … look … longingly look at those green, green hills in the video … So much so, in fact, that I had to watch the video many times just to concentrate on the words … those “Green Hills” … no wonder they are so famous … So remembered … And, so longed for … Let’s just say all of our hills are white …

Here are the words:

I wish you not a path devoid of clouds,
Nor a life on a bed of roses
not that you might never need regret,
nor that you should never feel pain.

No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,
when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed
and chasms are to be crossed;
when hope scarce can shine through.

That every gift God gave you
might grow along with you.
And let you give the gift of joy
to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend
who is worth that name.
Whom you can trust,
and who helps you
in time of sadness.
Who will defy the storms
of daily life at your side.

One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour
of joy and pain
you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you,
and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you,
now and forever.

Blessings to you, and your family.
Now.
And, forever.

Please note the credits at the end:

The Irish Blessing

Known world-wide as “The Irish Blessing,” this is the popular Blessing that well wishes those coming and going into our lives.
Here are the words:

“May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you In the palm of His hand.”

We are sharing this beautiful version of the Irish Blessing, with photos from Ireland, and lovely Celtic vocals.

Please note the credits at the end, and,
“Until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Blessings to you, and your family.

“The Little Girl:” John Michael Montgomery

It was one of those songs that, the first time you heard it, you wanted to hear it again. I first heard the song “The Little Girl,” sung by John Michael Montgomery, back in August, 2000. It was the first single to be released from the album “Brand New Me.”

It was written by Harley Allen, and reached number one on the Billboard Country Chart.

At that time I enjoyed putting together slide shows (with real “slides” and a real “click, click, click projector”) to songs, and this one was on the list to do, but I never got around to putting pictures together with the song. But, I have never forgotten the song, or wanting to feature it, in some format, some day.

As I think back, and listen to the song again, I am reminded of how, now, I see kids from rough, tough circumstances, and how my heart breaks from knowing, and just imagining, what some children go through.

I think of the parents in this song, and I think about choices we make … and, the choices we don’t make. I think of God’s love and grace, even in the midst of terrible circumstances, and it strikes me now … thinking about this song and the story with it … how these parents had the same opportunity to accept God’s love and forgiveness … yet … they made other choices …

I think of how God can give us a new beginning … even now, as a huge snowstorm is heading our way … I’m thinking of Spring … As I write these words, we are in the midst of a Winter Storm Warning … yet, the hope of Spring and a new beginning also surrounds us …

I think about how blessed I’ve been, how fortunate I’ve been, and, I think of this verse:
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
Psalm 27:10

Presidential Proclamation: Flags at Half-Mast Today

Today, Friday, March 2, 2018, I was sitting in front of our local Post Office, taking notes as I researched a story I am working on, about the United States mail. As I sat there scribbling on a note pad, carefully observing the building, and the signs “posted” near the entrance, I noticed the large American Flag, just to the left of the entrance. Blowing in the breeze, the United States Flag was at half-mast. I wondered why. At school, I often see our Flag at half-mast, always flown that way in honor of a New Hampshire citizen killed in the line of duty while serving in our Military. For some reason, today, I just stared at the Flag, and sat there, wondering. Why toady? I knew, deep inside, I knew why, but I just couldn’t remember. I can’t explain it, but I just felt I had to find out. So much, in fact, that I got out of the truck and walked in, waited in line, and asked the Postal employee behind the counter. Her reply:

“For Billy Graham.
Presidential proclamation.”

I thanked her, and walked out. I thought about how “out of touch” I’d been in the last few days. While I don’t watch the “national news” or “network news,” the TV in the Library always has the “Headline News” channel on, and that’s where I get blurbs of what’s going on. I’d been on vacation for several days, and haven’t even looked at the local paper. Last news I heard or saw was probably last Friday. I had written, just Monday, a post in honor of Billy Graham. I was aware his body would lie in state in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. And, I knew about the Proclamation. I’ve prayed for the Graham family. While on vacation, I still pray and have Bible Study every day. Just kinda stepped out of the world for a few days.

So, now, back in the office, I try to catch up:

On Wednesday, February 21, the President of the United States issued this statement:

“Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.”

From the White House, dated February 28, 2018:

Remarks by President Trump at Ceremony Preceding the Lying in Honor of the Reverend Billy Graham
Issued on: February 28, 2018
U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.
11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.
On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.
The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history. Starting at a small Bible school in Florida, he soon led a nationwide revival — from a large tent in Los Angeles, to 100,000 people in a single day at Yankee Stadium, to more than 2 million people at Madison Square Garden, over 16 weeks in 1957.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.
But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.
He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.
Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.
Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.
Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

And, today, in the center of this great chamber lies legendary Billy Graham, an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God’s grace.

Today we honor him as only three private citizens before him have been so honored.

And like the faithful of Charlotte once did, today we say a prayer for our country, that all across this land the Lord will raise up men and women like Billy Graham to spread a message of love and hope to every precious child of God.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.
END
11:28 A.M. EST

From the White House, dated February 28, 2018: The official Presidential Proclamation regarding our Flag flying at Half-Mast today:

Presidential Proclamation on the Death of Billy Graham
Issued on: February 21, 2018

As a mark of respect for the memory of Reverend Billy Graham, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty first day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP