Communication

You may have already seen this, but in light of the fact that Don and I are scheduled to fly into Halifax today, with Hurricane Fiona having arrived yesterday, I thought a little levity might be in order this week.

This dad and son are certainly communicating! I love it, and hope you do too.

Blessings, safety and love to all!

Heroes

Brian Rogers, Commander of American Legion Post 858

He phoned about a month and a half ago.

“This is Brian Rogers of the American Legion Post 858. Don is part of our Post, and we want to honor World War II veterans at our September meeting. Will you join us?”

We agreed, and Brian asked Don questions about his 26 months of service, including 16 months during the occupation on Okinawa toward the end of WWII, and the cleanup operations after the war.

The day was amazing.

Paulette and Al – Vietnam Veteran

We arrived at the Post, met Brian and talked with a few other people. As people gathered, we took our seats at tables under red and blue umbrellas. John and Al, Vietnam veterans, and Al’s wife Paulette, joined our table. There was a wonderful sense of cameraderie. Men and women who served in WWII, Korea, Iraq, Vietnam, all served our country. And we learned that Paulette and Al are also Jesus followers. What a joy!

As we walked to the tables we saw a group of high schoolers practice carrying framed flags to the front table. After Don and I sat down, four of the girls came over and asked how we were doing. They all wore yellow t-shirts with NAVY on them, so we asked about their goals.

ROTC Students

The Honor Guard, these NAVY-t-shirt students, and Boy Scouts are part of their school’s ROTC. Of the four girls who came to speak to us, two want to become pilots, one to be in another area of service, either Navy or Air Force. All were excited about helping protect our nation.

Lunch was hot dogs or hamburgers, chili, chips, eggrolls, cookies, and sodas or water.

As the anthem of each service branch was played, Brian asked those serving under the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard to stand when their theme song played. I was proud of my dear husband as he saluted to “While the Army Goes Rolling Along.”

Then Brian, current Commander of the Post, and Tito, who began the VSSA, handed out the framed flags.

Note Don’s, second row middle

Of five surviving WWII veterans, two were present – Don, and a 100-year old Coast Guard service member (right). Flags were also given to the families of WWII servicemen who passed in the last year.

We were deeply impressed by the services provided by the American Legion, through the Veterans Supportive Services Agency (VSSA). Tito, who started the VSSA, talked about how they fought to get congressional approval for American citizenship for those Filipinos who fought with us during WWII.

Now they are beginning a campaign to gain more support for deceased veterans’ wives. When their husbands pass away, these wives are often left pretty destitute.

It was a meaningful day. Meeting other veterans, and especially these students who are focused on joining the military, encouraged our hearts. So often we hear of divisions within our nation; yet there are those still willing to fight for the freedoms we enjoy. And whether or not you are a conscientious objector, I have a great deal of respect for so many who were, and are, willing to sacrifice to keep our nation free.

Don and John, a Vietnam vet, posing with the Jr. ROTC’ers

My confidence is not in America, our government or leaders. We are all fallible. My confidence is in the Son of God, who gave Himself to pay the penalty for my sins and yours.

One day we will all stand before the Great Commander in Chief, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He will judge us, not on how good or bad we’ve been, but on whether we’ve accepted his free gift of eternal life through his death and resurrection.

If I was so touched by this ceremony, how much more do I want to have something to give back to God in worship when I stand before him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17, NIV

The Queen who Relied on the King of Kings

King Charles III greets members of the public outside Clarence House in London after he was formally proclaimed monarch by the Privy Council, Saturday Sept. 10, 2022. ( James Manning/PA via AP)

Queen Elizabeth II has passed from death to new life. Long live the King!

Since childhood, I have been a fan of the Queen’s. Growing up in Canada, we began each day’s class with the singing of “God Save the Queen” and a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Queen Elizabeth visited Winnipeg once when I was probably two or three years old. I have a vague memory of sitting on my Dad’s shoulders as we stood in a crowd of thousands, watching the Queen pass in front of us.

I kept a scrapbook with pictures and newsclippings about the Queen and her family. King Charles and I are about the same age, and I used to imagine I would marry him (the fantasies of a child–thankful that one was never fulfilled. I got my own prince!)

Billy Graham with Queen Elizabeth II in 1989

I was glad to see that The Crown, which I know is fiction inspired by fact, included scenes of the Queen meeting with Billy Graham and listening to his sermons on the tellie. Evidently the two of them built a real friendship over the years.

The Queen was a symbol of stability in the UK. The longest serving monarch in British history “reigned on the British throne for seven decades while relying on Jesus Christ, the King of kings.” (BGEA)

Was she perfect? No. Did her family face extremely difficult challenges? Yes indeed. Was she universally loved by those who experienced subjugation of one sort or another from the UK? No. But I heard that a recent poll of Britons, asked their most admired person, showed 98% listed the Queen. And from what I have read, the Queen’s faith sustained and guided her throughout her life.

A woman places flowers at Buckingham Palace in tribute to the queen. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique Person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive. … It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”

Queen elizabeth ii
christmas message, 2011

I am saddened by the loss of this gracious, funny, wise woman from the world stage. In King Charles’ speech acceptance speech he asked for the help of Almighty God. I pray he will follow in his mother’s footsteps, allowing God to guide him even while he works to modernize the monarchy.

What are your thoughts on the death of the Queen?

The Savor of Salt

plate of cooked meat with cooked vegetable
Photo by Jer Chung on Pexels.com

Don and I have begun ordering two meals a week from Hello Fresh. We receive a box with frozen meat and all the fixings, as well as recipes, for two meals for two. The flavor combinations are wonderful, using unique spices I don’t have in my cupboards.

I’ve always used some salt in cooking. However, almost every recipe begins with “salt and pepper the chicken,” or pork, or beef. I have never thought about how critical salt is to our taste buds until now.

Jesus says we are to be salt and light in a world that is often overcome with darkness.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. …

Matthew 5:13-16
black berries near salt
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Jesus used such practical examples. Salt. Light. Everyday things we often take for granted, at least in North America.

So what are some ways we can be salt and light?

  • Sending encouraging, uplifting messages to friends.
  • Watching the tone of our social media posts: are they there to build up, or to cause anger?
  • Doing an errand for a neighbor in need … shopping, weeding, taking food, sending cards.
  • Giving a needed, appropriate hug.
  • Listening to someone who needs a caring ear.
  • Giving when it is in our power to do so.
  • Telling our own story when it will help another realize that help is available, hope can be found, and he or she is not alone.
  • Sharing with others the good news of the gospel. Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) And without Him, we are all lost.
unrecognizable graceful ballet dancer resting on floor
Photo by Kristina Polianskaia on Pexels.com

Sometimes we lose our saltiness. I’ve experienced that during times of deep grief or chronic pain. The great news is that our saltiness can be restored as we approach the Father to ask for His help, His peace, His grace and His forgiveness as we walk through each situation. He has promised never to leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Soaking in the truth of His love letter to us restores our soul, and invites us to be honest with Him about our needs.

So, this Labor Day, I thank God for His reminder to be salt and light to the world around me. A world with a lot of grief. Cancer. Rebellious children. Hostility within our country. Friends with Alzheimers’. Homelessness. The loss of loved ones. And I thank Him for those who, despite tremendous setbacks, continue to love and serve others in Jesus’ name.

Father in heaven, as I grieve with those around me facing various kinds of pain and difficulties, I want to thank you for your reminder that I am to be salt and light among them. Often I don’t know how to help. But You do, and I can come to you, asking for your grace, peace, love and provision in their lives. And when I see a need I can meet, help me to do so willingly, gladly, asking your blessing on the giving and the receiving. In Jesus’ name.

Connections

Had a couple interesting interactions this week and always enjoy small connections with others.

While at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I asked for my free Covid test kits (covered by Medicare). Because the pharmacist wasn’t there, I wasn’t able to get those that day, which meant a return trip.

man doing a sample test in the laboratory
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

At the cashier to my right, an older Indian gentleman asked for something (I didn’t hear whether it was the same as I had asked or something else). The young man explained to him, as he had to me, that he couldn’t release that without the pharmacist’s sign-off, and she was out to lunch. The man would have to come back.

“But I’m in front of you now.”

I got such a chuckle out of his straightforward response–not a typical American way of phrasing his thought, but the man’s point was very clear. I leaned over and said “I can’t get mine either. I have to come back too.”

The gentleman looked at me and said, “OK, I’ll come back.”

selective focus photo of a woman touching yellow bananas
Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

Then I stopped at Lucky’s to pick up bananas. I had only a few items, but hadn’t thought to use a cart or basket. So I stood in line for the self service checkout with my purchases in my arms. One of the boxed items fell to the floor. An African American gentleman quickly picked it up and returned it to me.

“Thank you so much.” I smiled at him. “I would have dropped everything if I’d tried to pick that up.”

“You’re welcome. It happens to all of us.”

And when at dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, their daughter, her husband and their son, three-year old Titus looked me in the eye.

“Why are your eyes red?”

I had to think. “I guess because I’m tired.”

Titus’ clear eyes at age two

Then I looked at his child eyes – no red lines, no reddened inner corners – except for the iris and pupil themselves, his eyes are pure white!

Maybe I haven’t been around enough three-year-olds recently, but I was amazed at Titus’ attention to detail.

Why is it that these tiny interactions stay with us? I think it’s a combination of kindness, and simple human connection. After having worn masks for two years, we’re looking each other in the eye again. Yippee!

Then I drive and get so busy talking or ruminating about something that my dear husband will say “Uh, I think you need to get over for the next exit.” What would I do without him by my side!

Somehow these connections energize me. We’re created by God to be in community. Pastor Jeremiah Johnston said isolation is the worst punishment for a human being. These last two weekends Don and I have “attended” church online. The sermons have been wonderfully challenging, the music uplifting, and I’m grateful for technology that allows us to be a part of the services from a distance. But there is nothing like being present in person, connecting with others of like mind and spirit, worshipping God together.

Evergreen Church, San Jose, on July 4, 2022

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

We need each other. Those in our family, our faith community, our neighbors, and those we meet in kindness in everyday life. These last two years have been very difficult emotionally. Suicide rates were up, especially among teenagers. Depression has increased. I encourage you to be in groups in whatever ways you feel comfortable – perhaps sitting outdoors for a church service; meeting friends for a meal outside; or finding another way to be with others, especially those you love and who love you. Let us follow the instruction in Hebrews to encourage one another, to be together again, to reject isolation and welcome community!