Monday, May 27, 2013

The Rite of Remembrance

Today is in recognition of  MEMORIAL DAY, a day set aside during the month of May in the United States, for all those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.   This is not to be confused with Veterans Day, which is held in November and celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.         
"To Make Men Free" 
Arlington National Cemetery
                    A few facts:
-  Occurs every year on the final  Monday of May.
-  Formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
-  By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service.
-  The American flag is placed on each grave in national cemeteries.
-  The painting to the left is entitled "To Make Men Free" by Norman Rockwell which he did in 1943, depicting  the American soldier throughout history from 1776 through the 1940's.  
-  The photo to the right is placing the American flag on each grave at Arlington for fallen comrades up to the present time.   A stirring reminder of this day is a following quote, one among many...  "The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree"  by Thomas Campbell.
 -  Moina Michael conceived the idea in 1915 to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war and has become a tradition ever since.  She wrote the poem under the photo as well.

We cherish too the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

The following are excerpts from an article written by Colonel James Puchy, now retired, who served as the Director of Sustainment and Information for the Army Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon:

"Memorial Day was created as an occasion to honor those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom. It is our opportunity to stop and give thanks for the many who have died protecting that freedom.  Many consider the 20th century to have been the bloodiest century in all history. Since the start of the 20th century, American service men and women lost their lives in seven wars and conflicts.  The number of lives lost, injuries sustained and families impacted is staggering.

During the last century, the weapons of war have changed significantly. Our nation’s enemies have also changed during the last 100 years. Yet, one constant during this time of change has been the presence of the Bible wherever our troops have been sent. That’s because, regardless of the circumstances of the battlefield, the cry of the soldier remains the same: God help me.

The Bible and its message of foundational hope have provided comfort and encouragement to those facing the most unimaginable circumstances. And, while far too many were lost in conflict, many more soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians have faced the horrors of war as well as the challenges of coming home. When they face the hurdles of readjusting to civilian life, once again the Bible is there to bring comfort, hope, and direction.

God’s Word provides peace amid chaos and perspective when the world seems upside down. It also provides shared encouragement for those on the battlefield and loved ones back home.
For those who give their lives for freedom, words from the Bible are often the last they hear in this world as dedicated chaplains hold their hands and honor their sacrifice--even as they are making it.

I have had the supreme privilege of comforting those on the battlefield by reading words of comfort from God’s Word. I have seen the peace that comes with the assurance of strength and courage offered by God.
The widows, widowers and fatherless children of our American military family also cling to the Bible’s truths as they stand strong within the loss of their loved ones. As we remember the sacrifice of their heroic loved ones, let us not forget their own personal sacrifices".... Colonel James Puchy
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This video presentation entitled "Memorial Day Tribute" was created by Mark FirstSergeant, which fittingly honors all those who died protecting our freedom.  Please watch it in its entirety, which includes a short narrative by  John Wayne on "Taps".  Thank you Mark for putting together such a video that captures the scope of sacrifice throughout the years by so many.
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Falling light... falling night...
Trumpet calls the sun sinks in flight
Sleep in peace, comrades dear...
God is near.

It is my fondest desire that war would exist no more on this planet and bloodshed would end across the nations of the world.  That humankind would enjoy the ultimate declaration of Peace and Good Will among men.  That we would prepare for peace as is Isaiah 2:4....  "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;"  instead of preparing for war as in Joel 3:10... "Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong."  A dichotomy of scripture; one is for the paragon of peace and the other is for the event of war.

Until next Monday, we'll meet again at the Turn-Up Patch.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Awesome Race

I recently had the opportunity of attending "The Awesome 3000" which is a race event for children from kindergarten through middle school, including a handicap event.  The air of excitement that emitted from the children was contagious and I found myself thoroughly engaged in the atmosphere of "high five's, warm-ups, laughter and competitor-camaraderie that was prevalent among the young participants.  Parents, family and friends scrambled for a seat in the stadium to get a good view to cheer their loved ones in enthusiastic support.  Others lined the track, picking a good vantage point to applaud their children on with shouts of encouragement.  Cameras were out in force, capturing today's moment for yesterday's memory

Logistics:  According to news reports, there were in excess of 3500 children registered for this year's event from the surrounding city schools.  Both boys and girls participated in their division according to their school grade level.  They run 1000m, 2000m and 3000m based on their grade for distance.    Each child's timing and placement at the finish line is posted.  Every child who participates receives a  medal for the achievement of running in the race.

Anticipation ran high with each group of children when it came their turn to run.  They pressed against the rope that held them back at the starting line, their bodies poised and legs ready to take that track at the go signal.  Some shot out to take the lead, others held back finding their way in the crowd of participants, others paced themselves conserving energy.  There were fast and slow runners, joggers and walkers, each focused on the track determined to complete their race, no matter what their time would be or who was ahead of them.  Some took a fall on the track but, with a tear or two, they picked themselves up determined to get back in the race.   Their goal was personal... to make the run!  

I equate all these dynamics into the race that we daily run "on the track" of our journey in life  There are many references in scripture regarding this race.  Hebrews 12:1,2 "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."  

What does it take to run an awesome race of faith in our life?  The word AWESOME means inspiring awe; outstanding.   Also, one of the dictionary meanings for the word RUN is to move without hindrance or restraint.    The following are some examples that are meaningful in principle, which can make a difference as to how we run the race.

 A is for Attitude and Awareness.  Awareness is the key for Attitude.  Once we become aware of a negative attitude, we can make the change.... and move in positive growth on the track of life.
W - is for Worth and Willpower.  Anything of worth or value that is set before us takes willpower to either attain or retain that which is worthy.... and realize fulfillment of vision on the track of life.
E -  is for Enthusiasm and Enjoyment.  It is easy to become enthused with the things that we enjoy, which develop our inner gifts and talents.... and used as a catalyst in accomplishment on the track of life.
S is for Support and Sincerity.  Support is fortified by sincerity if it is to be genuine and becomes lasting in commitment....and develops into stronger belief on the track of life.
O - is for Opportunity and Openness.   Opportunity comes in many forms and we need to keep an Open mind for clear direction.... and in the process, discover purpose on the track of life.
M - is for Marvelous and Meaningful.  When something becomes meaningful in your life, it appears marvelous in the depth and height and width of expanded understanding.... and enlightenment evolves on the track of life.
E is for Endurance and Encouragement.   Endurance needs Encouragement.  The little lights of encouragement that come our way can ignite a new surge of endurance in continuing on.... and brings strength on the track of life.

It's not about timing or placement but it's a matter of completing the race as the children did in the Awesome 3000.  We may walk or we may run or we may take a fall on the track of life but the Father of Lights is with us to cheer us on and also to pick us up.  Our reward is a Divine "Thumbs Up"... a job well done for completing the race of faith and partake of the victory prize set before us.

A fitting conclusion to today's post is this wonderful song "Because We Believe" by Andrea Bocelli.  A blind Italian singer and musician, he has been described as a voice for the new millennium.   Please take time to listen to his inspirational song with words of truth.  The song was co-written by Bocelli, David Foster and daughter, Amy Foster for the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, where it was performed by Bocelli. He certainly is an example of running an Awesome race on the track of life despite set-backs and a disability.  Thank you Triina77 for creating this beautiful video.
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See you next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Sorority Called Motherhood

This is written in tribute to the ordinary women who do extraordinary things in every day living as Mothers. There are millions of them who share this common bond.  They come in all shapes, sizes, age, race, religion, culture and personal history to name a few variants.  They enter a collective and distinct worldwide sorority known as Motherhood.  You could call it exclusive since a woman's heart has its own select joys and sorrows in raising a child.  She tries to do her best with the knowledge that she has throughout all the phases involved with motherhood.  It does not come with a set of instructions although there are many training manuals in "how to".  It is a direct hands-on experience requiring true grit, unwavering devotion, selflessness, a fierce love capable of holding on and a tough enough love to let go.  

A mother plays many roles, among them being a nurse, cook, counselor, teacher, chauffeur, cheer leader, administrator, protector, peace keeper, biographer, sports commentator and animal advocate.  She carries the torch of faith to pass on to her children so that they in turn can pass on to their own.  A perpetual Divine Light, which infuses into the progressive journey from child to adult where they write their own life's story.  2 Timothy 1:5  gives such an example where scripture says:   "I remember your true faith. That faith first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I know you now have that same faith".

Mothers learn the delicate balance of when to esteem and when to discipline; how to teach value without devaluing; to discern the good from the bad in areas of gray; set boundaries that limit but do not stifle; to champion success and alleviate failure; to nurture rather than coddle.   From babies to toddlers into childhood, teens and young adults, she is in constant watch over these ones who know her as Mother.

A life that was formed within a womb now becomes a life formed within the embrace of a mother's heart in the atmosphere of home.  Through the years there have been dirty bottoms to clean, tears to wipe away, struggles through illness, worries for safety, concern for right choices in an ever-changing world.  Her reward is a bright smile that lights up a room, arms that reach out to hug, words of  'I Love You' and a connection that only can be experienced between mother and child.
I have been blessed with two wonderful daughters.  They are the sunshine which breaks through cloudy days and a rainbow in life's storms.  I am continually thankful for these ones who were entrusted in my care and feel privileged to be their Mom.  Years have passed by and I've watched them grow into fine women who make a difference in the world around them.  I will always be a Mom who is a part of them as they are with me.  It is eternal and reaches beyond the confines of this life as we know it.

As older mothers, we can all look back and wish we could have done it better in some respects.  But children have a way of surviving our mistakes and hopefully cover them with forgiveness and are wiser in raising their own children.  As I mentioned before, motherhood does not come with a book of instructions, it is a life learning experience, which teaches unconditional love.  As it is with snowflakes, so it is with mothers.  As each snowflake is individual and unique, so is each woman's experience in the dynamics of motherhood.

Children often have surrogate mothers integrated into their lives.  I look back into my own childhood and see not only a mother's heart, but that of a loving grandmother and a special aunt who helped me feel safe through childhood insecurities.   They gave me gifts of themselves which were poured out to me, among them being their love and caring.  They were there for me when I needed them and made a difference in my young world.

This is a beautiful video, which amplifies my thoughts on motherhood.  Created by Lina Cardenas, "A Tribute to Mom" - Song, "One Heartbeat at a Time"  by Stephen Curtis Chapman.
You can also view at:

Give her the rewards she has earned and let her works
bring her praise at the city gate.  Proverbs 31:31
In conclusion, the following poem could really fit the heart of a grandmother since we have personally grown inwardly throughout the years as women and mothers.  As a 'Nana', I find myself doing these very same suggestions....

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again
by Diane Loomans
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d finger-paint more, and point the fingers less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

Come!  Join me next Monday at the Turn-Up Patch.  * A Note to Dads... You will get your turn in June....


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Ladybug & Perspective

Today's post is about an unassuming and gentle little creature called a ladybug.  As I began researching the ladybug, I wasn't quite sure which direction this message would take me.  They are such a sign of spring, they add to nature's environment of color after the gray of winter days. The ladybug has led me on quite an adventure in discovery.   For the most part, I try to avoid insects of any kind that creep and crawl and fly and bite!  Insects are not the most appealing of God's creation (in my eye) but each must have a purpose in His design.  However, I have no trouble allowing a tiny insect such as the ladybug to crawl up my arm before it decides to fly into blades of grass or a small plant nearby.  I don't even get hysterical when I see such an insect making friends with my grandson.  

 To begin with, a little trivia about this fascinating little red beetle.....
- In many cultures, ladybugs are considered good luck. Most people like them because they are pretty, graceful, and harmless to humans. But farmers love them because they eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime!
-  They come in many different colors and patterns, but the most familiar in North America is the seven spotted lady bug, with its shiny, red-and-black body.   
-  They have sticky feet which helps them to climb and crawl upside down on a leaf without falling off.
-  They can fly about 15 miles per hour.  That is much slower than other insects, some such as dragonfiles can fly 60 miles per hour.   Footnote by me:   I wonder how they figure that out!
 - The lady bug is the official insect of at least six U.S. states... Delaware, Ohio, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Hampshire and New York.
In Germany, these insects go by the name Marienkafer, which means Mary beetles. Another fact is that Ladybugs are known as LadyBirds in Britain, Australia, and South Africa.

The Legend of the Lady Bug and how it was named:
Stories vary about how this legend began. The most popular began in Europe during the Middle Ages when swarms of insects were destroying the crops. The farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon thereafter the Ladybugs came, devouring the plant-destroying insects and saving the crops. The farmers called these beautiful insects 'The Beetles of Our Lady' which over time became 'Lady Beetles' or 'Lady Bugs'. The red wings were said to represent Mary's cloak and the black spots were symbolic of both her joys and her sorrows.  So, next time you see a lady bug, think of all the good this little critter does and of Our Lady, who it was named after.

Along with ladybugs, comes the dandelions which are in full bloom in the yard and places in the fields.  I have a whole new appreciation regarding the dandelion, which I will share with you in the near future.  They are so much more than an obnoxious weed that pops out in the lawn.   

The following lyrics contain a thought which is worth pondering on.  We do all see in part; we see out of our own perspective, out of our own experience.   Using the ladybug as an analogy, I think of this little insect that can walk on top of a leaf and views life around its little beetle self.  Then it can crawl upside down on the bottom of the leaf and whoa!... there is a whole new world to take in.  As a collective people and as individuals, we can enlighten one another in sharing the parts that we do see and even change our own perspective in the process.  Both can bring about fuller understanding in the view of life's circumstance.  And no matter where you turn, God is in the equation.

Everybody sees a part
Of what this life can really be,
No one sees like you can see
When you let your mind flow free.
The wind is blowing through the trees,
A song that everyone can learn
And God is playing hide-and-seek
Every where you turn

Lady Bug
Don't disturb the Lady Bug
Sleeping by the spider's web
And if you see a butterfly,
Don't try to catch it in your net
It's taken such a long, long time
To make this a very special place,
Open up your soul and mind
To all it has to say.
Be still, Take it in a while,
Feel the sunshine warm upon your face,
You'll feel when it makes you smile
Like you're welcomed to the human race.

This beautiful video was created by zjmn58, aka - Anne Murray Music Fan.  The song is called 'Lady Bug' by Anne Murray and written by James Stein.  zjmn58 used own photography.
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 Meet you next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch and let's find out what "turns-up"!