wreaths

I had never done this before. Wreaths Across America is an organization that allows ordinary people like me to sponsor wreaths that are placed on graves of soldiers at national cemeteries. They do this in one day (today this year), at all national cemeteries all over America.

So I signed up in October to volunteer to place the wreaths. At the time there were 11 others who had volunteered. The cemetery here has 5,200 gravesites so I guessed we’d be pretty busy for most of the day.

I guessed wrong.

They’ve done this for about 10 years. Each year more people become involved, both donating wreaths as well as volunteering to place them. There were hundreds this year.

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Despite flooding rains, mud, Christmas shopper traffic all these people came. Not just military people, there were Gold Star Moms, families, college students, plain people like me and veterans.

With military precision the ceremony began at 12:00pm sharp with an invocation, presentation of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. If that wasn’t enough to get someone choked up, the flags of each branch of the military, including Civil Air Corps and Rough Riders with a representative of the branch all laid a wreath for their branch of service.

Taps was played. Slowly and with dignity. Those who made public comments reminded us that each grave represented an individual whose life is celebrated because they fought to keep America free. No, they do not give us our freedom. God has given us that but these people we remember for ensuring our freedom is still honored and lived.

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We take this for granted. We shouldn’t.

When the ceremony concluded we made our way to the crates of wreaths. The heady scent of Fraser fir drifted on the light breeze. I had sponsored 5 wreaths so I took those to a stark row of white marble headstones. We had been asked, when laying the wreath, to speak aloud the name of the soldier honored and for a few moments pause out of respect and gratitude.

This brought more than a few tears for me. Nationalism is not a bad thing. Having respect for what one’s country represents is important. I don’t mean to the point where it is an end in itself. This country was founded by those who wanted to live God-given lives of freedom and order, not under tyranny or political strife. America is not in a good place today and I cannot for the life of me figure out why there are those who hate America, the Constitution and our laws created to protect this country. The founders fought and worked hard to establish America to provide good life for people who also want to work hard. The generosity of Americans is staggering. Yet that generosity ought to be honored, not abused.

The soldiers buried in that cemetery believed in this country and believed in fighting for those beliefs. I’m glad to have been a part of showing them we respect that.

And still remember.

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“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  –John 8:32 NASB

 

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winter sleep

It makes sense, the days are shorter, it’s colder (in most places), plants go dormant. So there’s more inclination to sleep, or to want to sleep.

Not for me this week. Hurricane Florence took out a couple of fence panels that I had to replace. The installer guys said the wood had to cure for 6-8 weeks before I could paint so I did that this week. I forgot how long it takes to paint a fence!

I thought I’d get a jump on Christmas card and package mailing. Everybody had the same idea. Probably a good idea to avoid the post office from Thanksgiving till New Year’s.

An email this week had one of the coolest (no pun meant) pictures I have ever seen. There are many places I want to see before I can either no longer get around or see in general. I have been to some, the Grand Canyon was the top of the list, and another isn’t really a place so much as a thing. I would love to see auroras. So this picture is a phoenix aurora–

unnamed.jpg The picture was taken someplace over Norway recently, the photographer is Adrien Mauduit. Auroras are ephemeral, they shimmer and move with beauty. If you visit this photographer’s twitter page there are nothing but auroras, some in motion.

So though plants and most of nature sleeps, geomagnetic storms (coronal mass emissions from our sun) do not. And every summer throws its tantrums in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and all seasons have something to keep us awake. Right now it’s a winter storm making its way across the midwest to the NC mountains. At least I sure hope it stops there.

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When I took rescue dogs Lily and Lulu to their favorite walking park today, a nature preserve about 15 miles north, I noticed the overpasses and bridges have all been salted but not the roads. Which usually means not much in the way of icy is expected.

I hope this is true. Anyway, staying home sounds like a good idea this weekend.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121

she thinks the car is that way

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I have several parks where we like to walk. Lily is a great walking companion and can manage 2 or 3 miles. Lulu, being smaller therefore having much shorter legs is not. So sometimes we drive to wherever we are going for a walk.

This particular day Lulu was dragging her feet. Even squirrels did not interest her. We had come to this park but came in through an entrance we don’t normally use. So the only shortcut is a path through the woods. When we come out on the other side if we go in a certain direction we will have to walk the trail that goes completely around the park again.

A couple of ladies walking the opposite direction noted Lulu’s reluctance to keep pace with Lily and smiled, “she doesn’t seem too happy about her walk today,” one commented.

“She thinks the car is this way,” I replied. “It isn’t.”

So we went on.

To distract Lulu I headed for another pathway entrance into the woods again. She was having none of it and found a bench.

IMG_0747.JPGSo Lily and I stood by waiting for her to rest until she was ready to walk again. We ducked into the woods and came out nearer where the car was, and made it back home.

Another morning we walked along the now-deserted beach, since summer people have gone. Lulu is not happy at all about the sand that gets between her toe pads. So this walk did not take very long. Not even a  large collection of shorebirds, mainly gulls and pelicans interested her.

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Which got me thinking… I know a group of finches is a charm, it’s a murder of crows, a wake of vultures, a banditry of chickadees, and a dance of herons. So I looked up pelicans, which are a pod, scoop or squadron. I like their being called a squadron because they fly just like fighter jets, in a v-formation, low over the surface of the water and dive sharply to go after their prey.

Even so, Lulu was not impressed as I was and soon a few other beach walkers disturbed the birds enough to set them back into flight.

It’s funny how we tend to personify dogs as though  we know what they are thinking. We love them, and want them to be comfortable and happy. I know their companionship for me has been one of warmth and ease. I have never been without a dog in my life. And each dog is different. But one characteristic is profoundly evident in each one: they love. As utterly dependent they are on their person, there is a sense of comfort and freedom about them that gives me peace.

Even when Lily makes her silent demand for “walkies”

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No spoken word could be quite so insistent.

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holiday

The etymology of this word has it derived from holy days. But we call many days holidays, and ironically have made this word the politically correct word for many religious days– Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter, Passover, to name a few.

But isn’t the whole point of being politically correct turning everything to cardboard? Not even vanilla ice cream, just flavorless, meaningless days. So we don’t offend anyone, right?

Well, maybe, but no.

A smile can be holy. Anything that moves the heart is holy. So visiting family and friends for a (secular) celebration like Thanksgiving is for me most holy. A reunion, a communion, reconnecting on so many levels. Opportunities to laugh, express concern, to share thoughts, hearts, gifts, walks, the same space.

IMG_0742.JPG  I visited my brother this year for Thanksgiving. He honors me, though he does not maybe know it, when he asks me to accompany him to his office while he works and I read a book. Occasionally he or I share a thought or observation but the space is sacred somehow. And he and his family and I shared dinner together, and his daughter is learning to drive and she wanted me to accompany them on a drive (not harrowing!). And my sister-in-law had car trouble and allowed me to accompany her to the car shop which allowed the two of us a rare few minutes to share a sacred space and time.

I guess I am older enough and have lost enough to realize how sacred our human connections are. The accepting, sharing, forgiving, laughing, understanding, opportunities to grow more dimensions. Funny how for so long people can be so taken for granted until you listen below the surface of what you hear, and see through the lining to the heart.

IMG_0745.JPGSomehow, even if the connections don’t bond strongly there is a cord that holds everything together and more opportunities come around again.

Every encounter is a grand opportunity to give cheer, hope, encouragement. To appreciate someone for something they may not realize others do see.

Hope. It does spring eternal.

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“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blest. The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home, rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

― Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   ICorinthians 13:4-13 NIV

Sad

Life is tenuous.

Death is part of life.

She is no longer suffering.

We will see our loved ones again.

I have heard these things all my life yet death never steals another person that I don’t doubt those words. I am maybe too literal, or too caught up in the here and now, but death is always surreal.

Or maybe it’s just frustrated anger.

I know it happens. I just don’t ever expect it to.

John Donne was right: “Any man’s death diminishes me,  because I am involved in mankind….”

You hear those stories about people in terrible accidents or illnesses who have gone, seen light, been in a tunnel and have come back. My own father had such an experience.

The late Rev. Billy Graham spoke of a dream he had more than once after his wife Ruth had passed away where he stood on the bank of a river and could see Ruth standing on the other side, and this gave him hope that he would join her someday. I like to believe he has.

But I know the strength of a dream, the convincing hoax of illusion so I am too skeptical.

Still, this person I never knew who played something of a role in my son’s splintered life is gone. I have to believe she is now whole again, now not suffering but filled with unimaginable, unfathomable joy at seeing her precious Savior.

Thank you to those who read my earlier post, or spoke about it or prayed for her.

You are those who keep hope alive.

❤️

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is as strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.”  Song of Solomon 8:6

too strong to cry

For years after my husband and I divorced I did not cry. I might say could not but since I cry easily these days I would guess I could have but for whatever reason just didn’t.

I did not cry for my failed marriage. I did not cry for our son who would be shuttled between two states and so many dynamics of family. I did not cry for abysmal relationship mistakes made years after. I did not cry when my taskmaster Father for whom I worked in business blamed me for any and everything that went wrong, personnel, technical, anything. I now realize as a business owner he wanted me to understand what it meant to take responsibility but I was in overload in that department already.

I did cry when my mother died, 7 years after my divorce. The floodgates opened. She and I had drifted apart because I had too many tightropes to walk and could not relate to anyone. But when she died I snapped back to reality. Six years after she died my little dog of almost 16, with an enlarged heart, enlarged liver, degenerative disc disease and latent seizures had to be put to sleep.

I cried harder for my little Piper than for my mom.

As my son grew and life came back into focus my perspective became more balanced. I suppose sometimes you have to go off the deep end to see what’s right more clearly.

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At first I moved very slowly because life was newer, fresher but not strange. Having come to the end of myself I handed me off to God. I knew at once how badly I needed Him, how much I depended on Him. For breath, for wisdom, guidance, peace, grace, comfort, understanding, forgiveness, life.

And though I was still somewhat confused that purpose and vocation could be but were not necessarily one and the same thing that, too became clearer. First I was a child of God. Next a mother. Then a provider, sister, daughter, friend. And nothing is compartmentalized but can interchange.

Life, I learned, is rather fluid.

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Sometimes we find a niche and alight for however long.

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Other times, we fly.

I write this post after my son called to tell me he is in Tennessee with his father. His step-mother, a woman whom I have never got to know (why would I have) is not expected to live through today. They said that though on Thursday when she was admitted to hospital for sudden pain that has turned out to be a super-resistant infection.  And she is still here.

So I told my son I will pray for her, this woman, a virtual stranger but she is important to my son.

So she is important.

And I will pray.

And I cried. For a woman I do not know.

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“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”   –Psalm 23:4

“For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.”    —Psalm 91:11

 

Trump Confounds the Left and They Just Don’t Get It [Video]

Truth, in this case, helps. Some honest observations, reblogged.

TILJournal

Trump vs. Antifa Leftist protest against reality

In the first half of President Trump’s first term, political and cultural turmoil has seemed the norm. The consensus of opinion is that America is a ‘divided country.’ One can read that phrase in every news outlet from Left to Right these days.

However, far fewer would agree about the reason for the hostilities. The conservative would say the Left’s juvenile and violent behavior is the reason.

The Left would blame, surprise, (sarc) President Trump. In a manner, both of them are correct.

Blame could be assigned to the president because he has chosen to resist the mantra of the Left. He doesn’t fall into line as Republican Presidents have before.

In that manner, Trump is guilty of confounding the Left and motivating them to stir division and hatred, all the while blaming him for their actions.

Trump Confounds the Left

Inset.image.1.11.9.2018President Donald John Trump truly…

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