Tag Archives: John

BLESSING OF A BITTERSWEET DAY

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~A.A. Milne

Back in the day when all I had was a room, a bed to sleep on and miscellaneous things that made me smile, I collected quotes. This was before the days of easy access to quotes, so they were clipped or handwritten from of magazines, books, or songs. I taped them to whatever thing that was handy, the wall or even the boards that served as my make-shift bookcase with the help of some bricks.

When my dad died, I was 19 and this was one of the quotes that was taped to his picture that I kept close to my bed. As is often the case, the quote disappeared from the picture, but not from the memory files in my head.

Blessings are sometimes hard to find when the heart hurts from loneliness. Yet, that is exactly why this quote has stuck with me for such a long time. However, unlike A.A. Milne, I’m beyond lucky – I am blessed.

Blessed to have had a father that taught me the love of our heavenly Father. 
Blessed to have watched the great love affair between him and my mother – loud fights and car rides full of harmonizing songs – included. 
Blessed to have watched him work a full day in a factory and still find time to be a boy scout leader for the son he adored. 
Blessed to have him for 9 more years with him after his initial heart attack.
Blessed to have had a long telephone conversation with him the night before he died.
Blessed to have him serve as a heavenly guardian for my children and father-in-law on this day 24 years later when a car accident occurred.
Blessed to be the daughter curled into his side.

Bittersweet days are hard ones, but they are also blessed ones. I sat outside and watched birds flock around the feeder. I listened to some music that reminded me of my childhood days. I kept busy trying to learn a little more about the Heavenly Father. Fussed with the new mantle that reminds me of the one in my childhood home. Then I pulled out the piece of his old hammer and traced the carved letters with my fingers. Mom had cut this piece from his hammer after he died because he had carved his name in it. She kept it in the night table beside her bed, right beside the needle holder he had bought for her long, long ago.

Bittersweet days are filled with tiny blessings. We just have to remember to look for them.

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”~Jn 10:10    

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BREADCRUMBS: Chirpings

Long ago, before the printed word and technology was in every home and classroom and before there were people who say that rote memorization was not a good learning strategy – at about the time when Jesus was a little boy growing up in a small town, children in his village would walk into the classroom for the first time and find a slate coated in honey. A rabbi said these words, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~ Ps 119:103

Being a teacher it is so easy to see this first century classroom. I can hear the smile in the rabbi’s voice as he issued the first assignment, “Lick the slate clean and repeat after me.” As the students gleefully got to work (because there was no one around who said, “Yuk – germs!), they repeated the verse over and over until the slate was ready to be written upon. Thus, they learned their first verse of the Torah.

“If you abide in Me…”

According to rabbinical writings from that time, the sound of those voices repeating verses over and over and over were like the chirpings of little birds. Once upon a time, rote memorization was the underpinnings of all education all over the world. Books were rare and way too valuable for ordinary folk. Students learned by stories and rote memorization. In the Jewish community, by the time the Jewish children were ready for the next level of schooling, most of them knew the entire Torah by heart.

I’m sure there were those who struggled just like some struggle in today’s classroom. However, what we fail to remember is that the chirpings didn’t stop at the school. Every morning, every meal, every bedtime was filled with more recitation of verses and better yet – discussion – debate – exchange of thoughts – prayers filled with those same words until the verses became alive – vibrant with love between the family members – lustrous with the Breath of the Father’s Spirit – shaded with every jot and tittle of the language.

“And My words abide in you…”~Jn 15:7a

Cool thing to note – most scholars agree that boys and girls – around the age of 4 or 5 – would begin their schooling together. The cooler thing is that school didn’t stop at the doorway of the classroom. All the children in the family would participate in the discussions with their parents, so – for the most part – Our Father’s words took up residence within each family member who comprised this group of people called Jews.

They didn’t have to go look up a reference to string verses together. They didn’t have to google a phrase to find a verse. They didn’t have to look at their notes from school or find an expert. The words were part of everything in their everyday life. Trip over a stone and say a blessing of thanks because it wasn’t a rock. Get an extra few coins praise G-d for His goodness. Prayer rising without thought – never ceasing – because the WORD lives in each individual.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!”

Tonight, as the thunderstorm and hail pelt our little house, I look at the little gathering of early violets and spring flowers and touch creation with my heart. Life becomes so much sweeter as we chirp. Spring is here – well – kinda – in name anyway. The peepers have started to peep in NC – I think they are probably hiding deep in the mud tonight. The birds were chirping earlier today as they hopped about and hopefully found shelter somewhere now.

And I – well – I think I need a little more of those 1st century chirpings in my life so that the WORD abides in me.

“Sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~Ps 119:103   

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BREADCRUMBS II

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” ~Jn 11:41b-42a

Sleeping-in on a dreary, rainy morning, picking up the novel of dujour, and snuggling under the covers has always been one of my favorite things to do. It just such a rarity these days that it has become a treasure chest memory of days long gone bye-bye.

First off, it is Sunday. I didn’t need to be sleeping in today. I needed to be up for church this morning. Didn’t happen. Instead my internal alarm clock that usually wakes me 15 minutes before I need to be awake, didn’t go off in my head until an hour and a half later. sigh.

Second, the book dujour that always has rested by my side during the night has been replaced by bouncy, smiley dogs. Dogs that are generally staring at me, tongues out, warm, smelly breath in my face, ready to drag me from sound sleep into their active world before I have even whispered my morning prayers.

In other words, my day didn’t go as I planned. So I do what I tend to do when things go awry, I followed the breadcrumbs. Went to my church via internet and worshiped with the people I usually worship with – only from my recliner. In fact, I could even share my pastor’s sermon with you tonight via YouTube. We live in amazing technological times even though the world often seems darker than ever before – literally and figuratively.

Later in the day, I followed the breadcrumbs back to John 11 as I have done most of this week. The last time I wrote, Jesus wept. He wept with compassion for Martha and Mary’s sorrow. He wept for Lazarus who had lain entombed for the past four days . He wept for His people who needed grace; grace that only He would provide. He wept as the foreshadowing covered them all in front of the tomb.

Then, He prayed.

A simple prayer. “Abba, I thank You that You have heard me…” Then in the same poor in spirit attitude that he taught in the beginning of his ministry, he continued his prayer. A prayer that was filled with faith in his Father’s love and mercy. “And I know that you always hear me, but for the sake of this crowd that is standing here I said these things, that they may believe that you have sent me.” ~v.42

Today, the breadcrumbs led me to see the full circle of Rabbi Yeshua’s prophecy from the beginning of chapter 11, “This sickness is not of death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified because of it.” ~v. 4, to Lazarus walking out of the tomb.

And then – – why am I surprised??? – – another breadcrumb appears on my path. God is good and loves to drop breadcrumbs on my path, which is really great since I would be way overwhelmed with a full loaf of bread dropped under my feet.

In any case, my pastor was really stringing pearls today from OT to NT and back again. As he spoke, the treasure chest of memories opened up. Singing this blessing in my church choir – in my high school choir – with the All Ohio Youth Choir – with my college choir – on the marching band bus – on choir tour buses – in cathedrals – under bridges – small groups – large groups – mixed quartets – college party nights under the stars (seriously – that’s the kind of parties I went to in college – and yes, in all other ways it was a typical college party from the 70’s)…

God blessed me many times over today, and more than I deserved. Such is grace. I am so glad this day didn’t go as I had originally planned. God always does a much better job in the planning department.

‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’Num 6:24-26

BREADCRUMBS I

“Jesus wept.”~Jn 10:35

It is the shortest verse in the Bible and yet…it catches my breath every time I read it.

God wept.

I’ve been thinking of the story of Lazarus all week. It seems Our Father does this to me often. He plops breadcrumbs down in front of my feet – like I’m supposed to know what to do with them.

Eat them? Follow them?

Obviously, I don’t handle His hints very well. Sometimes, I crush them – mostly by accident…..I think – with the heel of my boots. Sometimes, I stoop down to study them where they are lying, wondering if I really want to deal with the mess of breadcrumbs in my pocket – you know – they crumble, right? Sometimes, I pick them up – popping them in my mouth – – duh, I’m hungry and the five second rule works for me. And sometimes – I pick them up and turn them carefully in my hands and wonder why they sparkle in the sun? Then I wonder just what in the world am I supposed to do with a sparkly breadcrumb?

It has been one of those weeks. The breadcrumbs have been plentiful – way more than I can handle – and I’ve been befuddled on what to do with all of them. My path littered with crumbs I’ve inadvertently crushed. My belly full of broken challa that feeds my soul. My pockets, a crumbly mess of wisdom that I wish I understood just a little more. My hands full of somewhat intact crumbs that sparkle and then I look up. The darkness thins, and He shows me why they sparkle. They are covered with tears.

As I’ve been reading Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg which led me at some point to the story of Lazarus. As if to drive the point home, I stumbled over to a podcast by a Messianic Rabbi on John Chapter 11. Till finally last night, there was a transforming catalyst of the breadcrumbs and that sent me to the back door slider in our home. A sunset. A ray of light reflecting off my tears. He always prepares me, I just am not so smart at realizing it until I look closely at those breadcrumbs that I hold tenderly in my hand.

Rabbi Yeshua was close to His followers and even closer to His disciples. He was their teacher for as long as He was given. His Father gave him a list, and He gathered them by calling their name or telling a story or by just a look over a crowd. He broke bread with them. He taught them with love. He patiently explained this new knowledge in different ways, over and over and over. He struggled when they struggled with their faith. He wept when they wept for great was His compassion – – – great was His love.

In our society, students don’t stay as long with their teachers as they did in Jesus’ time. However, like the rabbis of old, teachers today still share tiny bits of their lives, knowledge – and hopefully – wisdom with those given to their charge by the Father through a list typed out by the school secretary in some office. Before they know it though, the students are walking out the door and onto their own paths; their teachers sniffle a little as they wave good-bye.

As teachers, we don’t talk about it much. We act like it is just a job. Actually, I don’t think we understand the process as much as we think we do. We just know – that somehow – we grew attached. We gathered them at the beginning of the year. We broke bread with them. We laughed with them. Struggled with them in their struggles. We sweated in the heat of the summer that didn’t know when to quit. We froze in the depth of winters when old boilers couldn’t keep up with the below-freezing cold. We wept when the ugliness of life jumped out of the bushes and unto the path that we are walking together.

Overdoses.

Vehicle crashes.

Storms that break tree limbs.

Illnesses.

A national tragedy – a local tragedy – a familial tragedy.

The connection between teachers and students has been there since the beginning of time and will continue in the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6). It has been modeled for us throughout the entire WORD. When Our Father gathered His people to Him. When He sat on Mount Sinai with Moses and the Elders to break bread (Ex 24:9-10). When He carved His law upon the tablets and told Moses what to write in the Torah (Ex 19-24). He struggles with His people when they struggle. He weeps with holy tears as His people weep (Jer 14:7).

Teachers – Students – breadcrumbs that sparkle with tears in every season of life. God is good and greatly to be praised. Amen and amen.

 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #10

“On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”

JOY!

Not sure why staying home, doing mundane, everyday things bring me want to leap for joy. I just know it does.

Cardinals fussing around the bird feeders. A chicken hawk trying to grab a grey squirrel off a tree (he missed by the way – and boy – did that squirrel scurry down the tree). Dogs sliding in the snow just so they could roll in it one more time. Kitten playing in the box I’m trying to fill with Christmas past. Folding laundry. Cooking hot dogs with onions wrapped in a toasted tortilla. Learning something new during devotions.

It all just makes me – – – full of leaping joy.

“On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 10 lords a-leaping.”

Traditionally, the 10 lords refer to the 10 commandments. 10 road markers to guide a weary traveler. 10 rock-solid principles in a wacky world of slithering truths. 10 laws that guided a way-ward, stubborn people out of slavery and idolatry into the promise land of new milk and honey sweet manna. 10 laws that Rabbi Yeshua followed faithfully as He walked in this physical world.

“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy. For You bless the godly, O LORD; You surround them with Your shield of Love.”~Ps 5:11-12

JOY!

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. One of the words the angels used on the night Our Father sent His Son to live with us. One of the words that Rabbi Yeshua used often. Is it any surprise that I’m leaping for joy tonight? It may be cold outside. I may still have a coughing, sniffling cold. I may not leave the house for another three days because I just don’t want to do so.

JOY!

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”~Jn 15:11 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #7

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Yes, I know today is the first day of the world’s new year.

2018.

You know, when I was growing up, my parents said that “time flies”. I totally didn’t believe them, since it took forever to get to get from birthday-to-birthday or Christmas-to-Christmas or Labor Day-to-Memorial Day. But make no mistake, we continue to swim closer and closer to the end of the 12 days of Christmas 2017 and then 2018 will begin in earnest for me.

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven swans a swimming…”

I haven’t really made any resolutions this year – mostly because cold-fogged brains do not lend themselves to clear thoughts. But as the fog clears, and I start to swim in a straight line again, I’m beginning to organize my thoughts and figure out just where Our Father is wanting to lead me.

A friend and his family members chose a word to meditate on during the year. Another friend chooses a Bible verse. Others have chosen business or family goals. One friend has even chosen an author and wants to re-reads all the books, that person has written.

Truth be told, I’m not big on January New Year Resolutions. I suppose it is because for most of my 67 years on this earth, my new year has started with the beginning of school. Whether as a student or a teacher, that is when I set my direction for the year. Even now – almost 5 years into my retirement – I still find myself gearing up in August and preparing mentally to swim up-stream into a new adventure.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”~Is 11:1-3

There are 7 swans swimming in the living waters when we sing the 12 Days of Christmas. 7 fruits of the Spirit that Rabbi Yeshua modeled for us as He walked among us.

Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel
Fortitude
Knowledge
Piety
Fear [Awe] of God

Swim in the Living Waters. Harvest the Fruits of the Spirit. Now those are some resolutions that I think I really need to set my eyes on as I swim into this new adventurous year of 2018. I may have to push hard over the rapids. I may have to be patient in still waters. I may have to weather a storm or two. But if I wait for the breath of His promises under my wings, I can gain more power to swim a little closer to those Gifts of the Spirit and feel His peace surround me.

“I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Vine, and you are the branches; whoever abides with me and I in him, this one brings forth much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing.”~Jn 15:5 web-seven-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-public-domain [google image]

ADVENT 2017 – PEACE #3

When the calendar ends…

Dreams end and a day begins. I wish I could tell you what I was dreaming about when I walked out of my dream and opened my blurry eyes to a new day.

Dreams are like that though. So real one second, and swirling wisps of nothingness the next. Bits and snatches that rise up, appearing at the edge of the mind only to evaporate as if they never existed in the first place.

When the calendar ends…

Today, the Jewish calendar marks the 24th of Kislev – the beginning of Chankuh/Hanukkah. The miracle of the oil. The miracle of light. The miracle of a small remnant of righteous Jews who refused to bow to the apostasy that was overtaking their culture – country – faith. A small group that drew a line in the sand – a line of truth – based on their belief in G-d.

They stood apart. A lone. Armed in the faith of their convictions. The sword of G-d in their hand.

For them, the calendar didn’t end that day. The remnant succeed beyond all expectations. They defeated the reigning super power, regained the temple, and lit the temple menorah with pure, blessed oil One day’s worth that lasted for 8. A new festival instituted. Light of the first covenant re-lit. A light at the end of the tunnel that burned brighter as if the tunnel was falling away.

It was the 25th of Kislev 165 BC.

“And Yeshua spoke again with them and he said: “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Light of the world. Whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall find the light of life.”~Jn 8:12

Today at sundown, the 25th of Kislev 5778 began. Rabbi Yeshua celebrated this festival of Light even though He knew He was the Light that would change the world. For those who followed Him, one calendar ended and a new one began.

When the calendar ends…

There will come a time when the calendar ends again. An eternal calendar will begin where darkness has no power, and the Light never ends. A tunnel that is no longer dark but full of Light. Now that will definitely be a miracle of Light  – Light of a new kind, and one to celebrate in peace. [google images]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #28

I love, love, love Christmas decorations. When I am home, it takes all my strength of will not to run around the house turning on every decorated window and story land corners. There’s something about tiny lights twinkling amid pine boughs that still – even after 66 and a half years – tickles me.

Gratitude Attitude kicks in and I smile. Smile at the memories cruising around in my head. Playing under the tree with my brother’s train and my plastic horses. Melting endless candles and crayons on an old pottery jug. Making decorations with mom and dad. Daddy reading Luke 2 on Christmas Eve by the tree. Caroling outside seniors’ and shut-ins’ homes on cold, snowy nights with my choir and friends.

Did I happen to mention, I LOVE Christmas decorations?

I even love driving by homes with those twinkling lights shining through the windows. But mostly – I love mine. Sitting in a darkened room after Hubby is snoring in his chair. Dogs under my feet. Cat on the back of my chair. It is still special. ‘Course, now days, most of those lights are blinks in wires and not real bulbs and fragrant pine boughs have been replaced by plastic.

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”~Jn 8:12

These days it is hard to tell the “fake” from the “real”….the “lies” from the “truth”… the “faithful” from the “charlatans”. Since I believe the Bible is the WORD of God, I know the world has been here before. Many times. It has puffed up on its own knowledge – – – fallen on its own sword – – – and brought back from the eve of destruction by a few strong Jewish prophets and the faithful remnant who listened.

Tonight, I walked the dogs outside and looked at our house from the outside. Last year at an end of season sale, we got one of those outside laser lights. We don’t shine it on our house though. Instead, we shine it into the trees on the side of our house. The dots chase each other – collide – bounce and explode into even more dots on the trees, the ground, the outbuildings and even up in the darkness of the sky where they catch a reflecting particle of something.

“But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”~Jn 9:5

And I guess that is the real Gratitude Attitude tonight. Every tiny red and green dot that caught my fascinated eye – bouncing off the physicalities of this world in crazy randomness – is really there to remind me of the LIGHT of TRUTH that it represents.

Dots of Light. 
No as big as the original. 
Not as steady as the original. 
Not as shiny or bright as the original.
But –
all the same –
Light.

Dots of Light bouncing in joy and trying their hardest to reflect the LIGHT that was manifested to us so many years ago. LIGHT that chose to come to a dirty, muddy ball of darkness that there might be bouncing dots and – maybe someday soon – if we reflect a little harder and a just a little more and more and more – the full LIGHT will come once again and bring the sunrise with it.

Gratitude Attitude #28 is just a bouncing dot – but it means the world to me. Wanna bounce? [personal images]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #13

Only a couple of things rummaging around in this crazy brain, and both of them throwing me into into a stumbling, humbling Gratitude Attitude. Gratitude because lessons make me think. Gratitude because all things work to the glory of the LORD when we get out of the way and let Him carry the heavy lifting. Attitude – because I have to choose it.

The first lesson – don’t talk about ‘obs-tackles’ put in your path by the evil one, (and yes, I do believe in principalities) because ‘obs-tackles’ are bound to appear – almost immediately. By the time I went to bed last night, my “good” knee – formally the “bad” knee back in high school – was aching – – – A LOT. Aching enough to wake me up every time I moved – all night long. Giving up on sleep, I found that sitting, getting up – walking – trying to get anything done – the knee continued to hurt. It seriously put an ‘obs-tackle’ in my way today.

That said, it was a v-e-r-y long day. Long days often lead to self-pity, dragging butt, and eventually, not getting anything accomplished. However, if I get out of my own way and let God get me through it, long days also leads to introspection.

Hence – the second lesson of the day. Devotions destroy strongholds. IF one is smart enough to load them into the finite brain that does all that mechanical stuff in our lives. Over the decades I have finally learned to stop wallowing in myself, shut my mouth and turn off my brain long enough, so that I can feel the Spirit’s nudge. Whew – choice made, and the day didn’t look or feel so long or painful any longer.

“For those who are led by The Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”~Rm 8:14

After accepting that Christ is LORD of my life, it has been the Spirit’s nudges that has kept me sane and reminded me that I’m not in this battle alone. Even when I get off track. Even when I fall on my knees and feel like I can’t get up ever again. Even when I think I am the smartest person ever. Even when the knee hurts because of my own stupidity…

Even when…

And there, my friends, is my true Gratitude Attitude today. Jehovah-Shammah [The LORD who is there] loves me. Yeshua Christus loves me. Whether I am a mess and ugly as the sin that springs up daily, They – love – me. They love me enough to send a Helper – The Holy Spirit – to be with me always.

Even when…

Even when…

“If you love me, keep my commandments. I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.”~Jn 15-17

[google images/Akiane Jesus]

GRATITUDE ATTITUDE 2017 #10

Pictures of Marines are all over the place on social media. Just as they should be since it is the birthday of the Marines Corps. Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and I know, there will be tons more posts of service men – as it should be.

I am thankful that my dad was both. He wrote a postcard home as he traveled to Parris Island. He was 26 years old, and he sounds every inch of it in this one sentence: “I’m sitting in Union Station waiting on the train, I’m headed for Parris Island Marine Corps. I’m an honest to goodness Marine.”

“…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do

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not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”~Josh 1:9

He left behind a wife, a son, a dog, and a twinkle that would be born six years later. No easy communication devices. No cameras snapping a multitude of pictures. So there were letters……lots of letters. Mom and dad had a suitcase full. A suitcase that a youngster once opened and started reading.

I don’t think I sat down for a week.

Years later, Mom had me read a few of those letters to her when her body had started to break, and she developed Macular Degeneration. A few years after that, my brother and I decided that those treasured memories were theirs and not the world’s. I did keep a few of them though – especially the ones that had poetry my father wrote just for mom. Mom was a singer, so she would write song lyrics to him. She would tell him that all he had to do was listen, and he would hear her singing to him.

Pretty romantic stuff. No wonder the twinkle became a dream come true for them, and a pain-in-the-butt for her big brother.

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, Thou dost save me from violence. “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; And I am saved from my enemies.”~2 Sam 22:2-4

A while back I spent 100 Days writing about the little devotion booklet called “100 Rations”. Dad carried it with him to China and back home. His pocket-sized New Testament still sits on the book shelf behind my desk. He taught me to sing the Marine hymn almost as soon as I could talk. And while I haven’t been able to do it for years beyond memory, once upon a time, I could stand from a cross legged sitting position without even having to think about it.

Veterans are a blessing in this country. Men and women who are willing to sacrifice their time and comforts to protect and serve the rest of us – even unto death. It reminds me that Yeshua did the same thing – only He did it for the whole world.

Gratitude is an attitude. Everyday I need to be thankful for what Veterans have done for me. Thankful for what Christ did for me. I can almost hear my father’s voice reading the last sentence on the postcard: “So here we go. I miss you very much with lots of love and kisses. Boyd”

Love and kisses to all the Veterans and Marines out there tonight. Sweet dreams and thank you for blessing this country – each and every one of you who are reading this and those who are reading over my shoulder from a heavenly perch.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”~Jn 15:13