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
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
Gratitude #8: Books. Books. And more Books. As much as I like technology – especially typing things instead of writing things (it goes so much faster…especially when I make mistakes ), but books are my still what I love best. Fiction. Non-fiction. Humorous. Informational Text. Devotionals – or spirit filled. Biographies. Autobiographies (obviously, as all my students will tell you). The WORD. Even books that are in the “oral tradition” (storytellers) capture my attention and hold me enthralled. Touching pages that others have touched. Smelling the paper on which it is written. Entering a world that was once in someone’s mind or is part of their knowledge base challenges me to get out of “me”. I am deeply thankful for books – especially the WORD which always challenges, humbles and blesses.
Gratitude #9: Laughter. After starting my Sunday with Tim Conway,Carol Burnett, Vikki Lawrence, and Dick Van Dyke – how could it be anything else. Our world needs more laughter. Laughter transcends so many barriers and elevates our perspective on life. My father used to say, “Thunder is God’s laughter,” and I loved the image of God’s laughter booming over our house every time a storm rolled through. Somehow, I was never afraid of storms. Though I might have cringed when mom told my boyfriends some risque joke, I loved the fact that she could tell jokes so well and so often. Our home was filled with laughter – commediennes on LP records, TV variety shows, minstrel late-night-endmen-joke-planning. So who better to end my day than – Bob Hope? Gotta the internet’s access to old video clips. With Veternans Day approaching, I chose an overview of all Bob Hope’s trips. I am thankful for laughter and so thankful for those who can tell jokes – cuz I sure cain’t.
Gratitude #10: Unexpected gifts. Holiday season – decorations going up – gifts are on the mind. Those to buy – those to make – those in need. But sometime – it is the unexpected gift that means the most. A butterfly on a beach. A choc lab that whines to sit in your lap. A child’s trust. A late fall flower in bloom. The sound of geese flying low over the lake. A hug from a stranger at church.on Sunday who said, “Your mom said you needed a hug today.” All gifts that I didn’t deserve and yet blessing my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. I can’t be thankful enough to Our Father for dropping unexpected gifts on to my path these last few days.
Gratitude #11: Veterans. This one was obviously the choice of the day. Originally, the world set aside this day to remember those who had died in WWI. Whether it is called Armistice Day – Rememberance Day – or it’s more modern term: Veterans Day – it is now a day to remember all veterans and say thank you. In America we have Memorial Day, so 11-11 at 11 A.M. was changed in 1947 to honor all Veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country. Leaving home. Leaving family. Leaving the comforts of home. Heat. Cold. Impossible tasks and choices…Life…Death. They have made sacrifices that I can’t even imagine. I admire all the veterans I have known growing up: my father, my brother, my uncles, my peers, my former students. Veterans are truly an example of: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn 15:13
Gratitude #12: Mothers. I was talking to one of my FB friends about how I have had many mothers in my life, and I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind as I said my devotions. Who would I be without my “mothers”? They carried so much knowledge, practicality and wisdom that proved invaluable to my life. They emerged from my family, extended family, peers, collegues.and miraculously (as if God didn’t plan it that way ), they manage to appear right when I needed them. They “mothered” me through those tough times and stepped back when I spread my wings. Lucky for me, I had a great mother, so I was able to recognize it when I saw it. So thankful for the many mothers in my life – but mostly thankful that Our Father sent me to learn from the best. Still missing her and still thankful.
Gratitude #13: Devotions. A day can be so-so and then something happens that makes it – the same – great – or terrible. The interesting thing is that we often have a choice. Each day I try to spend a couple different times in devotions (needless to say – this does not always happen…to my detriment ) A new Jewish wisdom story started the day (seeing the OT in a new way made me wonder all day long) – a preacher who (with lots of jokes and stories thrown in for fun) reminded me why one little verse in the NT can change the way we think – then change our heart – then change our mouths – was the way I ended my day. Thinking about God always makes me truly thankful. “…whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.” Phil 4:8
Gratitude #14: Excitement. There are days that are totally “God-blessed” from start to finish. An unplanned day trip with the hubby to Nashville – not OH, too small – not TN, too big – NC, ahhhhhh….just right! And in that small town there was a cafe. Good food, interesting local arts and used books. The excitement comes in here. We went to Nashville to buy a kitchen island with a slate top that we had been looking for since last year. It is beautiful and perfect. That is still not the excitment. It was finding two books out of hundreds that I found in 5 minutes and knew deep within me that I was supposed to bring them home as well. You know – that little voice that nudges…”look at the books…old books…that one that you can’t read the title…don’t leave…look at that other book two cases over…” Excitement builds as you pull out the first one: His Eye Is on the Sparrow: the Autobiography of Ethel Waters. One of my favorite jazz singers/actresses from my mom and dad’s era. The second was: The Best-Loved Religious Poems by James Gilchrist Lawson. Excitement is bubbling. There is much more I want to share about these wonderful gifts, but that’s not the message of the day. Sometimes (as I am reminded by that same small voice} we must stay focused on the message – I’m just thankful for God-blessed excitement of the day and where it is leading me. Long video but such a great example of Ethel Waters talents.