Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day and The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat

Those who know me, know I make a habit of Red Friday posts on social media. I've done this for several years and will continue as long as Facebook exists.

I look for quotes and stories, Bible verses and personal thoughts to draw our attention to the ones who lay it all on the line so we can freely and safely go to the grocery store, send our kids to school and worship without fear.

This past Friday, I felt especially heavy hearted as I looked for the proper post for the day. Thinking of Memorial Day just a few days away. . . I couldn't help but think of the Mom's who are without their warriors this year.

I came across an old poem, The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat, and the story of its author.

John Hunter Wickersham, born in 1890, joined the army and by the year 1918 he served as a Second Lieutenant in the 353rd Infantry Regiment in France during WW1.

September 11, 1918, just prior to taking part in battle, Wickersham wrote a letter to his mother. The letter contained a poem he wrote while thinking of her.

The next day, John Hunter Wickersham was seriously injured in battle. He pressed on and led his platoon until he fell later September 12 and died. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1919.


Second Lieutenant Wickersham's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Advancing with his platoon during the St. Mihiel offensive, he was severely wounded in 4 places by the bursting of a high-explosive shell. Before receiving any aid for himself he dressed the wounds of his orderly, who was wounded at the same time. He then ordered and accompanied the further advance of his platoon, although weakened by the loss of blood. His right hand and arm being disabled by wounds, he continued to fire his revolver with his left hand until, exhausted by loss of blood, he fell and died from his wounds before aid could be administered.

Here is the poem he wrote the day before he died:

The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat
The mist hangs low and quiet on a ragged line of hills.
There’s a whispering of wind across the flat.
You’d be feeling kind of lonesome if it wasn’t for one thing
The patter of the raindrops on your old tin hat.
An’ you just can’t help a-figuring sitting there alone
About this war and hero stuff and that.
And you wonder if they haven’t sort of got things twisted up,
While the rain keeps up its patter on your old tin hat.
When you stop off with the outfit to do your little bit,
You’re simply doing what you’re s’posed to do –
And you don’t take time to figure what you gain or lose –
It’s the spirit of the game that brings you through.
But back at home she’s waiting, writing cheerful little notes,
And every night she offers up a prayer,
And just keeps on a-hoping that her soldier boy is safe –
The Mother of the boy who’s over there.
And fellows, she’s the hero of the great big ugly war,
And her prayer is on the wind across the flat,
And don’t you reckon it’s her tears, and not the rain,
That’s keeping up the patter on your old tin hat?


Second Lieutenant Wickersham was 28 years old.

This Memorial Day weekend I offer prayers of thanksgiving for the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. I pray for the families who must display the tri-folded American flag and long to hold the one they love.

I will go to the church picnic and enjoy time with family and friends.

But I will not forget what this special day is meant to be.

And I will not forget the men and women whose blood makes American freedom possible.

God bless America.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Passion

Passion.

Passion for retelling the stories.

The Samaritan woman.

The pools of Bethesda.

"Stretch out your hand."

The healing of Jairus' daughter.

Passion.

40 days in the wilderness.

A centurion's faith.

A man born blind.

"Lazarus! Come forth!"

Passion.

Lord, I believe. . . help my unbelief!

The feeding of 5,000.

The four good friends.

"Let not your heart be troubled. . . "

Passion.

Passion for telling the children about a life-changing, eternity-binding, love-you-forever Jesus.

Passion for opportunity to reach, teach, and love children who have only heard the name of Jesus used in a curse.

Passion for the biggest opportunity, brought right to our doorstep.

And, passionate prayer for able-bodied people to rise to the occasion and say "YES, Lord, YES!"

Jesus.

Passion for Jesus.

I'm so glad someone told me.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Babylon is Watching

Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king's food or with the wine he drank.


The Old Testament story is well-told in children's Sunday School classes. We read how King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. The king put the word out to look for the best looking young men and bring them back to Babylon. These near-perfect men would train for 3 years in preparation to serve in the kings court.

Daniel and 2 of his friends were in the group of young men taken to Babylon.

We quickly learn that, although he knew he couldn't change his address, Daniel made the decision to be faithful to God. Daniel was bold enough to ask the chief official for permission to stay away from the kings unhealthy food. After some back and forth, the official agreed to a 10 day testing.  

These boys were in a foreign land that worshipped foreign gods. They did not have their parents or family members nearby for support. All they brought with them was the truths God had planted deep in their hearts.

Imagine, if you can, the fear that must have gripped them in this cold and pagan world.

The Bible says God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the eyes of the official. This is the only way Daniel and his friends were awarded 10 days of clean eating.

At the end of 10 days the official clearly saw Daniel and his friends were healthier and looked better than the others. He continued to give them the vegetables they requested.

As believers, you and I step into Babylon every time we walk out the door or turn the television on. Goodness, we carry Babylon with us everywhere we take our cell phones.

Each time we find ourselves in Babylon, we have a choice to make. We can be determined to be faithful to God or we can look like we belong in Babylon. This is real-life stuff. We can laugh at the same jokes, stab our co-workers in the back, watch the same movies, hang out in the same bar on Friday nights, and use the same language- that would be Babylon.

Or

We can allow what we learn from our own private Bible study time as well as what we learn when we get together on Sundays to change us and make us Christ-like. We can ask God to plant His words deep in our hearts. We can remain undefiled in Babylon.

You know, they didn't sneak over for a taste of the kings rich food even one time. They were too determined to be faithful.

Daniel and his friends remained true to God and the result was obvious to onlookers.

Babylon is watching.

Could it be, as we are faithful, someone in Babylon might decide they are tired of living a sick, tired life?

Babylon is watching.

Watching with curious eyes when we face life's challenges.

Babylon is watching.

Watching when our hearts break, expecting us to turn from our faithful God and enter into Babylon.

Not every battle we fight is for our own good and growth. Some battles are for the people of Babylon.

Babylon is watching.

You know, at the end of the training years, he interviewed all of the men for his court. The king found no one equal to Daniel and his friends. In fact, the king found them to be 10 times better than any other servant in his kingdom.

The rest of the story is full of amazing ways God used these young men to be salt and light in Babylon.

God hasn't changed.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the one who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8




















Sunday, April 30, 2017

We Thought We Had Tomorrow

I thought I had tomorrow
                  He said in raspy voice
It passed me by without warning
                   I feel I had no choice

I went to work every day
                   The bills just wouldn’t wait
I sat alone each evening
                    Never thinking of my fate

I thought I had tomorrow
                     She whispered as she cried
Father time ticked away
                      Never on my side

From dawn to dusk
                     My work was always there
I meant to stop and play awhile
                     I feel life isn’t fair

We thought we had tomorrow
                     Our regrets have caused us pain
We thought we had tomorrow
                      If only we could do it over again

Did someone try to warn us
                    As we hurried on our way
Was an alarm sounding
                     Telling us tomorrow is today

I sent you many moments
             He said so patiently
To wake you from your slumber
             And help you clearly see

Did you hear your wife when she called
              To say she missed you very much
Yes, her heart was longing                                                                                                            
              For the presence of your touch

Your little girl waited
            On a swing in the park
Looking for her daddy
             She waited until dark

I gave the phases of the moon
             As today creeps into tomorrow
That you might live in the moment
              And have no reason for sorrow

There was the warning of outgrown shoes
             To show time marches on
And each new skill your child mastered
             Screamed today is almost gone

There are quiet reminders all around
              Meant to guide and point the way
That you might heed the warning
              Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you should do today

Please don’t despair, it’s not too late
            You have the gift I’ve given to everyone
You have this moment; you have today
             From dawn til setting sun

Give me your all your devotion
            I am The One who numbers each day
I will show you what’s most important
            Take the time to pray

I will give you all you need
             To balance work and family
I will multiply your days on earth
              And bless you abundantly

You see that little girl
            Her eyes are sparkling for you
When she says “Come play with me”
            Well, that would be your cue

Your little boy, standing there
           Bat and glove in hand
Yes, that’s a flag of warning
            Play ball while you can

Take the hand of the one you love
             Live intentionally regret-free
Now you know, the alarm has sounded
              All you need is God and family

(Photo props to Cari Dee)
             
            
             
              
             


            
           
        

                          
             

            
              
            
             
            
                    
                   




                    

Friday, April 28, 2017

In The Waiting

The courtyard in Ochsner Hospital is incredibly relaxing. The atmosphere is oddly serene. Hundreds of people have already passed by as I drink my coffee, pray for my mom and listen to the piano music's familiar tunes-

 whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.

Waiting.

I'm not alone in my waiting.

All these people, they are waiting too. Waiting to hear, waiting to see, waiting to know.

As they pass by on their way to only God knows where and what, I wonder . . . do they know Him?

Are they waiting alone?

Furrowed brows and pained smiles,  quick steps with heavy feet.

I find myself thinking of my life's verse - Joshua 1:9 - as I wait on my mom to finish her scans this morning.

God's promise, "Don't be afraid. Be courageous. I am with you wherever you go."

When you face false accusations - I am with you.

When the biopsy comes back - I am with you.

When he/she walks out - I am with you.

As you fall into anesthesia-induced sleep - I am with you.

When you finally realize you have no control - I am with you.

As I pray for my mom and our family members who long to control the outcomes, as I pray for my friends in their own battles, as I pray for these strangers as they pass me by,

I praise God for keeping His promises. And I pray that, through the journey of uncertainties, we all know Him more intimately, love Him greater, trust Him more and give Him glory for every good thing.

May those who don't understand God as they watch to see how we respond find us faithful. As they look on and wonder if we have gone loony tunes, may they move from intrigue to interest. May they want what we have.

I hate waiting.

But waiting serves a purpose when we spend that time determining to put our trust in God and God alone.
Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.








Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Star Light, Star Bright First Star I See Tonight. . .




God scattered the stars like dazzling diamonds on a sea of black velvet at the dawn of time. He knew we would gaze up at night and gain hope for a better tomorrow, knowing Someone with great power created such wonder.

And in His great wisdom, He knew we would need the blessings in life to guide us like a shepherds staff guides the sheep safely into the fold before the cover of night.

I guess most of us think of blessings as things such as

a wet kiss from your grand-baby

someone who pays for your food in the Wendy's drive thru

a card in the mail from a sweet friend who is "thinking of you"

the sight of the American flag waving in the breeze

a surprise phone call from one of your kids "just because"

puppy breath

These things are blessings for sure, and I love them all.

Here lately though, I find myself thinking and talking about an entirely different kind of blessing.

I am certain you can relate to the "what next" kind of day; and I am not referring to the simple stuff like a flat tire, a headache and being dog-tired.

No, I'm talking bigger. For me it's when people I love are hurting--facing surgery, worry over a much loved pet that may not live through the night, relationship strains and the dreaded "C" word we have all come to despise.

I bet you think I sat at your dinner table and listened in as you discussed your concerns for the people you love.

As I look life's difficulties square in the face tonight, I find myself feeling incredibly blessed.  I admit, I am surprised at God's incredible work and grace in the middle of storms that should be pulling me under.

Instead, I am learning and growing and relying more on The Only One who loves me best.

I see God placing His gentle, Fatherly arms of grace securely around the people I love.

Friends from all over remind me many times a day of their prayers, support, and "call me if you need me."

Most of all, with every prayer I whisper, with every tear that falls, and when worry over things I cannot control threatens to rise within me,

God steps in.

And I am calmed by the reminder

LIFT UP YOUR EYES ON HIGH AND SEE: WHO CREATED THESE? HE WHO BRINGS OUT THEIR HOST BY NUMBER, CALLING THEM BY NAME, BY THE GREATNESS OF HIS MIGHT, AND BECAUSE HE IS STRONG IN POWER NOT ONE IS MISSING.
ISAIAH 40:26

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight--no need to wish, it's not by my might, I know God is answering my prayers tonight. 
He's near, He hears, I'll feel no fear--He made the stars and the message is clear, He knows what's best, He'll dry my tears.

Joy comes in the morning.
  




Sunday, April 23, 2017

These Things I Know

Why are we here?

Is life on earth some kind of cosmic joke?

Does God watch from a cloud and play a game of chess with us?

Does God deal out destruction just to see us struggle?

If God can intercede . . .well, why doesn't He?

Honestly we will not know the many ways He intercedes daily until we get to heaven and are absolutely wowed by it. I will praise Him for the battles I never fought because He stepped in. I will give Him glory for protection against my enemy.

Most of all, I will stand amazed in His presence for a split second before I fall on my face and thank Him for saving my soul.

Until that day, THESE THINGS I KNOW:

 His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God without prejudice,
 He is righteous and true.
Deuteronomy 32

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness
 to all who call upon you.
Psalm 86:5

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 


My momma bought me a Bible for my 16th birthday. In the front cover she wrote out Philippians 1:6. True that day and true today -  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Those things in life He allows - the beautiful and the difficult - He allows for a purpose. The purpose of keeping His promise in Philippians 1:6. 

If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior the promises are the same for you. He is always working and never forsaking.

If you have never prayed and asked Jesus to be your everything, you cannot begin to understand this blog. But, friend, I can testify Jesus is listening for your voice. He's waiting for the invite that will change your eternity. The invite that will change your today.

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yolk is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11

I cannot imagine a single moment of the day or night without Him.

These things I know:  God is good. God is just, God is faithful.

God is always working.

Yes, these things I know.