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Death and Life

Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve History of the Blessed Dead

It’s that time of year again…Halloween.  Children love it for they march from house to house gathering all the candies that their parents won’t let them eat throughout the year. Teachers hate it for students sneak in the candies to class the next day.  Adults who throw Halloween parties…dress up…and act like kids..or wild adults who get into the “spirit” may go all out for the occasion. For some it is a time for mischief and tricks…that may not be  so funny.   Parents in our neighborhood usually walk with their children…or give them a hay ride on a flat-bed truck.

What is the History of this holiday?   We’re here to share it with you.  Here goes…with a few interesting pictures at the end that may get make those chills run up your spine.

The name Halloween (originally spelled Hallowe’en) is a contraction of All Hallows Even, meaning the day before All Hallows Day (better known today as All Saints Day in the Christian Church. 

Old Abandoned Manor House with the ghosts of the past

Old abandoned English Manor House with  the ghosts of the past

According to the writer Christian Hummel:

  • More complete HISTORY of Halloween or ALL HALLOW’S EVE:

All Hallow’s Eve, Hallow E’en, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Samhain. By whatever name it has been called, this special night preceding All Hallows day (November 1st) has been considered for centuries as one of the most magical nights of the year…As ubiquitous as Halloween celebrations are throughout the world, few of us know that the true origin of Halloween is a ceremony of honoring our ancestors and the day of the dead.

In ancient times, this day was a special and honored day of the year. The Celts believed that the normal laws of space and time were held in abeyance during this time, allowing a special window where the spirit world could intermingle with the living. It was a night when the dead could cross the veils and return to the land of the living to celebrate with their family, or clan. As such, the great burial mounds of Ireland were lit up with torches lining the walls, so the spirits of the dead could find their way.

  • The Jack-o-lantern

Out of this ancient tradition comes one of our most famous icons of the holiday: the Jack-o-lantern. Originating from Irish folklore, the Jack-o-lantern was used as a light for the lost soul of Jack, a notorious trickster, stuck between worlds. Jack is said to have tricked the devil into a trunk of a tree and by carving an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, he trapped the devil there. His pranks denied him access to Heaven, and having angered the devil also to Hell, so Jack was a lost soul, trapped between worlds. As a consolation, the devil gave him a sole ember to light his way through the darkness between worlds. Originally in Ireland turnips were carved out and candles placed inside as lanterns lit to help guide Jack’s lost spirit back home. Hence the term: Jack-o-lanterns. Later, when immigrants came to the new world, pumpkins were more readily available, and so the carved pumpkins carrying a lit candle served the same function.

  • The Christian Church moves away from the pagans:

As the Christian Church began to take hold in Europe the ancient Pagan rituals were co-opted into  festivals of the Church. While the Church could not support a general feast for all the dead, it created a festival for the BLESSED dead, all those hallowed so, All Hallow’s, was transformed into All Saints and All Souls day… Today, we have lost the significance of this most significant time of year which in modern times has turned into a candy fest with kids dressing up…  Many cultures have ceremonies to honor their dead. In so doing, they complete a cycle of birth and death, and keep in line with a harmony and order of the universe, at time when we enter into the cycle of darkness for the upcoming year.

  • Lighting candles to remember those who have died

As you light your candles (or flashlight in your pumpkin) this year, keep in mind the true potency of this time, one of magical connections to the other side of life, and a time to remember those who have passed before us. A time to send our love and gratitude to them..

  • Loving to be scared

Having given the history, we may just put you in the mood for this so-called scary of all nights.   Even if you do not walk through a cemetery, you may want to see some pictures that may remind you of the haunted…the forsaken…of Halloween tales as we know them.

These pictures were taken in England by photographer Andre Govia.  If you want a really good view of details, click on any picture to enlarge…then arrow back for the next picture.    HAPPY Halloween or ALL HALLOW’S EVE!!

England  Old Abandoned Classroom Andre Govia photo England  Old Things left behind Andre Govia photo England Old Manicans Andre Govia photo England Manor House Debris Strewn Room Andre Govia photo England Manor House Old things Andre Govia photo England Old Places Old Things in Sanatorium Andre Govia photo England Old Places Treasure in the Attic Andre Govia photo England Old Places Abandoned Orphanage Andre Govia photo

Old Manor House...deserted...haunted?   Who knows...but would tell a good story!

Old Manor House…deserted…haunted? Who knows…but would tell a good, scary story!


Trusting the Pilot…the “white-knuckle” Flier

Some of us are fearful fliers…but when boarding a plane we have to trust the pilots at the controls. We pray they are experienced; are sober; not asleep….etc.

We take off and all is well.

It’s time to land…and again we “white-knuckle” fliers pray, “Lord, Put Your Hand of mercy under us.”

What the pilot sees as he starts a landing decent is not what we passengers see unless we are in an airline with a big screen and they choose to let us see. ( I watched the actual take off and decent on an Japanese airline…just as the pilot would see.)

These are professionals who know what they are doing. ..except in the case of Asiana Airlines that recently crashed in California.  The flight recorder or black box revealed ” that the plane was ‘significantly below’ its intended speed and its crew tried to abort the landing less than two seconds before it hit a seawall, severing the tail section of the plane and almost flipping onto one side. He was training,’ a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines said of the pilot.”

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 with 300 aboard

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 with 300 aboard

Most pilots have flown into all kinds of airports…big and small.. many times.   It is the really unusual missions that make us catch our breath.  Below are some runways  and actions that you may amaze you.

Macao International Airport

Macao International Airport

Wake Island in Pacific Ocean

Wake Island in Pacific Ocean

Kuujjuaraapik, Quebec

Kuujjuaraapik, Quebec

Tioman Island off the coast of Malaysia

Tioman Island off the coast of Malaysia

Canadian Military on rock off Greenwood

Canadian Military on rock off Greenwood

A PA National Guard pilot who flies in civilian life is loading wounded in Afghanistan while perching on this building.  Amazing!

A Pennsylvania  National Guard pilot, who flies in civilian life, perches on building while military loads  wounded in Afghanistan. Amazing!


Resisting Violence starts at Home

Violence memorialIf you have children…or grandchildren, you may be surprised at how much the entertainment industry has captured the minds of our society.   Regardless of age, young children, teens, young adults; mothers and fathers are absorbing into their mind and brain a sickness…VIOLENCE.Violence memorial2

Just this week, a person who was mentally ill and said to have absorbed himself in violent videos, killed many employees at the Navy Yard near the Capitol in Washington, D.C.   Just a few days later, families in Chicago are out at a park, watching a ballgame…when many of them are shot,  including a small three-year old boy, by violent gang members. These are only a few examples of the hundreds of tragic incidents  that have happened within our society just in 2013.

Violence memorial6This violence is often blamed on the fact that we are allowed to have fire arms in the United States..when actually it is the sickness allowed in the homes, schools, theaters, t.v…and in the game world….all in the name of free speech and free enterprise.   The Supreme Court is not going to help families in this area as they just  struck  down California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.   Well, who would want the government telling us what we can buy…or allow children to watch….for that is what parents do….right?

Tonight the news reported that within 24 hours a new video game, Grand Theft Auto V,  earned $800 million dollars…and closing in on a billion. This is a video filled with interactive violence..murder, torture, prostitution,rough language and much more in which the player interacts. All this for a price of $60. It is supposed to be sold to those 17 and older…being rated as for the “mature”. Of course, the 17-year-old has little brothers and sisters who will play it with him/her.

Violence memorial4This is what was written about the earlier versions of Grand Theft Auto: “The Grand Theft Auto series has sparked controversy, criticism, and even lawsuits for its violence, sexual content, and graphic imagery. The 2008 and 2009 version of the Gamer’s Edition of the Guinness World Records listed it the ‘most controversial video game series in history, with over 4,000 articles published about it, which include accusations of glamorizing violence, corrupting gamers, and connection to real life crimes.”

The biggest shocker is when CBS News interviewed some parents who were buying  this new game for their 13 and 17-year-old children. The mother said, “He knows that I don’t like it..but I buy it because all his friends have it.”     WHAT!!??

  • You are parents and have to teach your children what is acceptable in your family regardless of what other parents are doing.
  • The minds and hearts of your children are developing and this is what their young brains are seeing and vicariously experiencing.
  • Children and young adults with emotional issues are even more at risk.
Terrified mother tries to protect her children in Mall in Kenya

Terrified mother tries to protect her children in Mall in Kenya

Armed Police search for more attackers at mall.

Armed Police search for more attackers at mall.

Western tourists being helped to safety after mall attack.

Western tourists being helped to safety after mall attack.

















Just this morning, another violent attack has happened in a beautiful shopping mall in Kenya.  Will we wait to teach our children about shunning anything violent until they have to go to the mall with the fear that this type of terrorism will happen in American?  They already have fears within the schools.

If we as responsible adults do not speak out and stand up for what is right in our society, we will  see a continued rise in the cases  of mental illness and violent behavior.   RESISTING VIOLENCE STARTS AT HOME. Click below to view a video explaining the risks to our young people:

Grand Theft Auto V Becomes The Fastest Video Game To Make $1 Billion – One News Page [US].

EXCEPTIONAL…and just what does that mean?

A couple of blogs earlier, the topic was about whether we could trust Mr. Putin and Russia to be open and honest about Syrian chemical weapons.   Today,  I would like to tell Mr. Putin why our President mentioned “exceptional” in his recent address.  Promptly, Mr. Putin, wrote about the “exceptional” remark in his article in the N.Y Times as follows:

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

We have no question about the last part, for God did make us all equal…but what we have done with that equality has been up to us.

The MacMillan Dictionary describes “exceptional as extremely good or impressive in a way that is unusual.”    I like this definition because it does not say “superior”…or other words that sound egotistical.    

Below are two videos of what America is made of and what makes Americans exceptional. Please do not lecture us, Mr. Putin,  on what “exceptional” means. We know what it means:

  • Going the extra mile
  • Reaching out to the people around the world who are hurting
  • Fighting for the rights of nations to know freedom when they are willing to die for it.
  • Believing that we are “our brother’s keeper” regardless of religion, race, creed
  • The selfless acts of heroism by  firemen, police and others  who respond during tragic events….not thinking of themselves or their own safety.

If we lose our desire to excel and to be the best or better than others in any initiative ….we become what your country has a history of doing…putting everyone in a common mold. It has only been in recent history that Russia has tried some of the things that democracy holds dear.  Keep on trying for as you know, Communism did not work.  We do not see a “danger” in reminding others that exceptional is a good word not a bad one.

Oliver North’s speech on “What we do as Americans…”  You can say “exceptional”

Mr. Putin, how often does Aeroflot (Russian airlines) do what you will see below when one of your own dies?   This is “exceptionality” in action as only one of the many things Americans do when freedom and patriotism mix.   I would ask as you look at this to notice that these are mostly Delta personnel, the pilots and the people standing at the airport when just one of our brave soldiers comes home to a final resting place.    Only two in the group are military escorts.

Oldest Christian Monasteries in Syria Under Attack

Mar Takla Christian Monastery in Syria

Mar Takla Christian Monastery in Syria

According to the AP:

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front and the Qalamon Liberation Front still control Maaloula, an ancient village that is home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. Rebels captured this village on Saturday and it is reported that nuns are trying to find safe places for the orphans that they care for. Priests are also  being tortured by extremist Muslim rebels. 

Situated about 40 miles northeast of Damascus, Maaloula had until recently been firmly under the regime’s grip despite sitting in the middle of rebel-held territory east and north of the capital.

St. Theclas (Mar Takis) in Syria

St. Theclas (Mar Takis) in Syria

MTC_3770a mar-takla-ican

Maaloula Syria

Maaloula Syria

The village was a major tourist attraction before the civil war. Some of its residents still speak a version of Aramaic, a biblical language believed to have been used by Jesus. Maaloula is known as the last surviving place where Western Aramaic (Aramaic of Jesus) is still spoken.

Some History facts:

 For many centuries, the desert has provided escape and isolation for those who have left their normal life, to be alone with their God. From the beginning of the first millennium, it has been a sanctuary inhabited by monks and hermits which, in the 3rd century AD, became the birthplace of Christian monasticism.I 
 Mar Sarkis is one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. It was built on the site of a pagan temple, and has elements which go back to the fifth to sixth century Byzantine period.
Mar Sarkis is the Arabic name for Saint Sergius, a Roman soldier who was executed for his Christian beliefs. This monastery still maintains its solemn historical character. Mar Taqla St. Thecla Monastery  holds the remains of St. Taqla (Thecla); daughter of one of Seleucid princes, and pupil of St. Paul.( according to author, James Gordon)

Maalula, Syria

Maalula, Syria

Modern-Day Tragedy for Syrian Christians:

The savage attacks on  the village of  Maaloula highlights fears among Syrian Christians that the alternative to Assad’s regime — which is made up mostly of Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam — would not tolerate minority religions.  The spotlight now is  on the deep-seated fears that many of Syria’s religious minorities harbor about the growing role of Islamic extremists on the rebel side in Syria’s civil war.   This very fear should be a focus that every Senate, House Member and Americans should be asking when looking at Syria.  Would we enable those terrorizing the Syrian Christians to  take control in this Civil War?

40078-maalula-monasteriesThe video below shows scenes from Maaloula Monastaries.

Soldiers and their War Dogs

We love our dogs.

Our Golden Retriever, who is not a war dog..but adored just the same.

Our Golden Retriever, who is not a war dog..but adored just the same.

None are more faithful and all they want is our love.  For your Sunday morning, give an extra pat to “Fido”  and especially remember our service men and their battle dogs.

National Guard soldiers from New York who befriended a stray dog while on patrol in Afghanistan were reunited with the 65-pound mixed breed and her seven rambunctious puppies after the animals arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

National Guard soldiers from New York who befriended a stray dog while on patrol in Afghanistan were reunited with the 65-pound mixed breed and her seven rambunctious puppies after the animals arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    Some facts about War Dogs:  (from article by Geoffrey Ingersoll)soldiers and their battle dogs2

  • The United States War Dogs Association estimates that, since the beginning of their service, dogs have saved approximately 10,000 American lives.
  • Dogs have been in service and seen combat with Americans in every conflict since the birth of the nation, but have only served officially since WWI.  Dogs were mostly used as message carriers during the first few conflicts.
  • In WWI, Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated War Dog in history, saved an entire company from a serin gas attack. He also met three presidents.
  • The biggest hero of WII though, was a German Shepherd named Chips who single-handedly forced a machine gun crew to surrender. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart-all later revoked due to Army regulations against awarding animals.
  • But Rin Tin Tin became the most famous dog of WWII. A German war dog, he was abandoned, then adopted by American troops and brought to the U.S., where he became a movie star.
  • In the Pacific Campaign, Marine dog handlers were awarded a total of five Silver Stars and seven Bronze Stars for heroism in action, and more than forty Purple Hearts for wounds received in battle.  The highest ranking Marine War Dog was also the first official mascot, Sgt. Maj. Jiggs. He was one of the most liked due to his belligerent demeanor. His death in 1927 was mourned throughout the Corps.
  • Duke, a Vietnam war dog, once alerted his company to an impending ambush, and is credited with saving over a hundred lives with a single action.
  • In total, 5,000 dogs served in the Vietnam War, and approximately 300 lost their lives.
  • Dogs also serve in special forces—the SEALS brought a dog with them on the Osama bin Laden raid.  There are about 2,500 war dogs in service today, with about 700 serving at any given time overseas.
  • Dogs and their handlers alike have been known to need therapy after losing their partner in combat.  A story is told  about a dog named Hawkeye who didn’t leave the side of his fallen master’s casket until the funeral service was over.
  • The dogs, like their military counterparts, often find service in law enforcement after their retirements, which occur at the ten year mark.  Upon retirement though, their handlers are given the option to adopt, or the service will help the dogs find willing families

These dogs are brave…but mostly loyal.   Our prayers go out to all those who share their mission.


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Narrow Escapes…a Brush with Death…”Why was I spared?”

Landslide in Bolivia

                                                 Landslide in Bolivia

near deathIt is hard to understand how things can happen with no way to explain them.  Is it purely accidental…Divine intervention…or just pure luck…that a person escapes harm or death?

For the Christian believer, we trust that we are in God’s Hands…and we believe that He knows everything about us and what every day will bring.  I have never understood why a newscast reporter speaks to a survivor of some disaster  and the person says “Someone up there must have been looking after me!”  Do they think that God turned His back on those who died?  I believe God loves all people…and some things happen because of a natural event.
Nature pulls out the stops; people make decisions that harm; a careless worker does not do his/her job….we could go on and on….but those near-death experiences certainly do make one take a long, hard look at their lives.

  • Maybe life will be shorter than I think.
  • Perhaps my priorities in life should be given a look.
  • If I were given a second chance, how do I change things?
  • Maybe I should think seriously about my spiritual life and what faith means…or does not mean to me.   Perhaps this should be my greatest thought aside from the mundane things of life.

Whatever goes through our minds or thoughts about near-death experiences of others or ourselves….the unexplained…but the question remains in our thoughts, “Why was I spared?”  There is probably not an answer to this.  Thank God we have today!     Enjoy the sun and flowers; the moon and stars; family and friends….for we know not what will happen in the next moment.

As an example SO WHAT TO DO IF:

This is not the method

This is not the method

If your car dangles over a cliff:  ( Edited by Waited, Krystle, Will, Nicole Willson and 41 others)  1. stay calm 2. Keep your foot on the brake if it is already there.  3 Set the parking brake. Pull the brake handle very slowly and smoothly, and stop if you detect any movement. If your foot is on the brake pedal, slowly remove it. 4 Open the windows 5.Turn off the motor 6. Take off your seat belt 7 Unlock the doors 8 Move in planned unison. If there are multiple people in the car, make a plan  before anybody moves. Typically, those who are seated closest to the cliff’s edge should get out first if possible. This will maintain a favorable balance of weight in the vehicle. 9 Watch, listen, and feel for movement. If you feel, hear, or see a slight movement, immediately stop what you’re doing. Your instinct will probably be to push-off from the car and leap out as quickly as possible, but this is not wise if there are other passengers who have not yet exited the vehicle. Instead, stop for a moment to see if the movement stops. If you detect a more pronounced movement or movement that doesn’t immediately stop, it’s time to scramble out as quickly as possible and hope for the best….ALSO PRAYING IS GOOD. Maybe you will have a miracle.

GOING IT ALONE …tiny Israel and the “trickle effect”

Flag of Israel

Flag of Israel

Yesterday, our prayers  at church were that the U.S. Congress will do what is best when voting whether to strike Syria.   It is a very tough situation…and the proposal to do something in a “limited” response may not deter anything at all. It is an area that is already devastated and now its people have been attacked with chemical weapons.  Nevertheless, the world is watching and waiting to see if we have any spit left in our mouth at all.  (that is an old N.C. saying…as to guts).

 July 31, 2013 Picture shows a devastated street in the Khalidiyah district of Syria's central city of Homs.

July 31, 2013 Picture shows a devastated street in the Khalidiyah district of Syria’s central city of Homs.

An article by Jeffrey Heller and Angus McDowall said  “…Tzachi Hanegbi, a Netanyahu confidant who sits on the Israeli parliament’s defense committee, complained that Obama’s statements had delivered further proof to Iran – and North Korea – that “there is no enthusiasm in the world to deal with their ongoing defiance regarding nuclear weaponry…To us in Israel, it says one thing: …‘If I am not for myself, then who is?'” …  

 For all the unease that Israel has about Syria’s rebels, who have at times fired into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, it is pushing hard against Assad now after learning to live with the Syrian leader and his father over the past 40 years… The message from Netanyahu was clear:”There is a man in nominal control of Syria who is using chemical weapons against civilians. That has to be stopped.”   

Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Shoura Council, said that U.S. strikes should aim to end Assad’s rule…Askar said “If the attack is just a punishment to show that the international community will not stand for chemical attacks, Assad will just remain in his place and do his bloody work. The second scenario is to finish the business.”

Another report on August 28 said, “An unnamed senior Syrian army officer told the Iranian news agency Fars: “If Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors.” Israel is “prepared for every scenario” and will respond forcefully if necessary, Netanyahu said.”

In looking at future threats to tiny Israel, Iran has already said they want to wipe Israel off the map.  When their nuclear weapons are ready, they intend to make this attempt.  There is no way that tiny Israel will sit back and wait for a chemical or nuclear attack on its people. They now have decided that they can not depend on Washington to “watch their back” and may have to go it alone!     

An Israeli soldier is seen next to an Iron Dome rocket interceptor battery deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, AP photo

An Israeli soldier is seen next to an Iron Dome rocket interceptor battery deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, AP photo

Going it alone, as we know, is impossible.  Someone will have to step up to the plate with them.  When the American war ships were sent to the Syrian coast…the Russians sent some of their own to keep an eye on what is going on.   Can we ever believe that the Russians would defend Israel if they should be attacked with any form of weapons?   Never!  There is too much involved with Russia’s oil interest with Syria….not to mention the oil interests of the United States and Europe.

For those who say, ” It is not our war…the Middle East has been fighting one another for thousands of years…”  This is a new day. We are connected one nation to another through our own cyber abilities.  Radical terrorism has spread across the globe.  Any time a war breaks out…especially on a big scale or a limited one…there is an impact on most everyone in the world.   The stock markets in major countries go ballistic…gas prices sky rocket…air freight and truckers  take a great hit…and so do we in our own homes...for it is a trickle-down effect that no one can deny.

The Suez Canal

                                               The Suez Canal

Economies around the world will not recover for years even if dictators are toppled…so others can take their place.   There is also the Suez Canal to consider along with human lives from any disaster.  The rest of the world depends on keeping this open.   Yes, it is all a huge mess.  No nation can be perfectly right in any decision made.

Paul McGuire writes a terrifying scenario in his article, America, Syria, and Russia: Opening the Gates of Hell, the following:  (entire article at )

“If Obama attacks Syria, some analysts believe Vladimir Putin is prepared to strike Saudi Arabia. This could stop the flow of oil from the Middle East. The United States government could go into a state of emergency and immediately restrict private access to fuel in this country in order to conserve the reserves inside of the United States! This would paralyze our economy. Grocery stores, major retail outlets, and pharmacies which operate on real time delivery principles would be virtually empty in matter of days. It is not inconceivable that banks would be closed and martial law established. Obviously, this is a worst case scenario.”

Only God knows what will happen by the decisions to be made now…and in the long run.  The  world cannot expect Israel to go it alone ….for they can’t.    Every church, temple,  synagogue, and  mosque should be pleading for God’s help!

We are all in it together like it or not.

israel wailing wall


israeli worship

FORT HOOD The Brave who died had real lives!

military mournsNot much has been said about the people and the lives of those who were murdered at Fort Hood by the terrorist ..a convert to radical Islam.

They were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and a mother to be…with lives to live; service given to our country…and now they are gone.  Shot and killed by one within their own ranks.  It would have been the last thing that they would have thought to happen when they decided to join the military..especially on a secure military base in their own country.

Boyer Writes thinks that it is important to take a good look at what has been lost and how valuable they were in the lives they lived. What is listed here is only a small part of all they had done in life or the dreams that they had…but would not fulfill because of one man who used misguided, religious fanaticism as an excuse to kill.   They deserve to not be forgotten.

 NAMES, AGE, and HOME TOWN:  Michael Grant Cahill, 62, of Cameron, Texas; Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Va.; Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 32, of Evans, Ga.; Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, of San Diego, Calif.; Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, of Mountain City, Tenn.; Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla., Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis.; Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah; Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.; Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis.; Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21 (and her unborn child), of Chicago; Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, of Havre de Grace, Md.; and Pfc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Grant Cahill Retired

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Grant Cahill Retired

Michael Cahill had worked as a civilian contractor at Fort Hood for about four years, after jobs in rural health clinics and at Veterans Affairs hospitals. He and his wife, Joleen, had been married 37 years.

Major Caraveo was a self-made man who spoke very little English when he first came to this country. He was the youngest of seven children of an impoverished family that immigrated to El Paso, Texas from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Eduardo put himself through the University of Texas at El Paso, received a master’s degree from Texas Tech University and his doctorate from the University of Arizona.

Major L. Eduardo Caraveo

Major L. Eduardo Caraveo

He worked as a teacher and at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and had a private practice in Woodbridge, Virginia. Eduardo had been in the National Guard for ten years and had spent one year at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Sgt. Justin Decrow

Sgt. Justin Decrow

At 32, Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow had been in the Army for 13 years. He had decided it was time to become a civilian. DeCrow had returned  from a year’s deployment in South Korea to Evans, Ga., where he had built a house with his wife, Marikay and thirteen year old daughter. He had lined up a job as an Army contractor at nearby Fort Gordon in his specialty, training younger soldiers in satellite communications.

Capt. John Gaffaney

Capt. John Gaffaney

Capt. John Gaffaney was a psychiatric nurse who worked for San Diego County, Calif., for more than 20 years.He was preparing for a deployment to Iraq. Born in Williston, N.D., Gaffney, as a young man, had served in the National Guard and in the U.S. Navy.

Specialist Frederick Greene of Mountain City, Tenn., went by “Freddie” and was active at Baker’s Gap Baptist Church while he was growing up, said Glenn Arney, the church’s former superintendent and a former co-worker of Greene’s. “I went to church with him, knew him all of his life. He was one of the finest boys you ever saw,”  

Specialist Fredrick Green

Specialist Fredrick Green

 (A special note about Specialist Green and those who would attempt to get benefits for the families of those killed. The following is a quote from an article by Lacey Hillard,  “Specialist Greene’s lack of eligibility for Military Death Benefits has inspired several local veterans to turn lobbyist in order to garner support for not just the family of SPC Greene, but the families of all those killed in the Fort Hood attack.  Air Force veteran, Dick Dion is attempting to right what he feels is an injustice to those killed at Fort Hood. Dion said, “This is not a political issue. It’s about seeing that our military personnel and their families are treated with respect. There’s no difference in what Specialist Fredrick Greene did in trying to quell the violence, without a weapon, than what soldiers do every day in a combat zone in Afghanistan.”)

Specialist Jason Dean Hunt

Specialist Jason Dean Hunt

Specialist James Dean Hunt of Frederick, Okla., went into the military after graduating from Tipton High School in 2005 and had been married only a short while.  He had served 3 1/2 years in the Army, including a stint in Iraq. He was known as a quiet, kind young man. 

Sgt. Amy Krueger

Sgt. Amy Kruger

Sgt. Amy Kruger

Amy Krueger had put her schooling on hold immediately after the events of 9/11 to enlist in the U.S. Army in support of the war on terrorism. She served as a Mental Health Specialist and had already completed one tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2003.

Aaron Nemelka

Aaron Nemelka

PFC Aaron Nemelka was a combat engineer with the 510th Engineering Company, 20th Infantry Battalion, 36th Engineering Brigade. He was scheduled to be deployed to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the war — helping to dispose of munitions. He wanted to serve his country. He picked what he wanted to do.

Pfc Michael Pearson

Pfc Michael Pearson

PFC Michael Pearson was in the Army Corps of Engineers, stationed at Fort Hood. His mother said her son had been in training to deactivate bombs. Music was his central passion. Pearson loved to play the guitar that his father, Jeffrey, taught him to play as a young boy.  Jimmy Hendrix was his idol. He talked about going to college to study music theory. He stayed in constant touch with his family. When he found out his father had been laid off, Pearson sent money home so that the family car would have new tires. “He was the best son in the whole world,” his mother said. “He was my best friend.”

Capt. Russell Seager

Capt. Russell Seager

Capt. Russell Seager was a psychiatrist who joined the Army  because he wanted to help veterans returning to civilian life. Capt. Seager had worked with soldiers at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Milwaukee who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He also taught classes at Bryant & Stratton College in Milwaukee.

Pvt. Francheska Velez

Pvt. Francheska Velez

Pfc. Francheska Velez, 21, had finished a tour of duty disarming bombs in Iraq and was pregnant and preparing to go home to Chicago. “She was a very happy girl and sweet,” her father, Juan Guillermo Velez, said.

Pvt. Francheska Velez


Col. Juanita Warman

Lt.Col. Juanita Warman

Lt. Col. Juanita Warman’s military career spanned 25 years in active duty and Army reserves. A certified psychiatric nurse practitioner  had undergone training in California in preparation for her mission. A  graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree in nursing.  In 2005  Lt. Col. Warman accepted a job at a Veterans Administration facility in Perryville, Md. and  she had a civilian practice at UPMC. She was an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury as well as being considered excellent in her practice. Lt. Col. Warman served a year overseas at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the Army facility where those injured in Afghanistan and Iraq are treated before being sent stateside for further medical care. She regularly volunteered for round-trip flights to Iraq to care for soldiers being sent to Landstuhl. She received an Army Commendation Medal in 2006 for meritorious service at Landstuhl.

kiong kham

PFC Kiong Kham

PFC Kham Xiong came from a St. Paul, Minn., family with ties to military life. His father, Chor Xiong, battled communist insurgents in Laos during the Vietnam War; a brother, Nelson, enlisted in the Marines. He had a great commitment to supporting his family. Xiong and his wife had three young children. “Kham was a person of sound character, and his greatest attribute was his ability to make everybody smile,” said the principal at Community of Peace Academy, a St. Paul charter school from which Xiong graduated in 2004. “He was a superb role model to his peers and siblings and children.”


FOOTNOTE: The lead prosecutor at the military trial of the terrorist assured jurors that the murderer would “never be a martyr” despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion. “He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,” Col. Mike Mulligan said  in his final plea for a rare military death sentence. “This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”

funeral arrangements

JUSTICE…May NOT be this side of the grave!

László Csizsik-Csatáry

László Csizsik-Csatá

Someone died this week, August 10, 2013, who should have died much sooner.  Laszlo Csatary  was 98 when he passed away in Poland, waiting for a trial that never came.

Csatary had lived in the West  since WWII…even ran an art gallery in Canada, where he had become a citizen until Canada got wind of his connections to the Holocaust.  Interesting that he fled back to Poland where his war crimes had been committed. Later he was arrested in Hungary.  There were many ghosts to meet him there…some still living after torturous conditions in the camps.

According to an AP writing,Holocaust survivor Edita Salamonova, whose family was killed in the Auschwitz death camp after their deportation from Kosice, said she remembered Csatary well.  “I can see him in front of me,” Salamonova said. “A tall, handsome man but with a heart of stone.”Salamonova remembered Csatary’s presence at the brick factory… and would make sure to keep out of his sight when he was around.”

nazi death camps women


“Hungarian authorities said Csatary was the chief of an internment camp set up in a brick factory for around 12,000 Jews in Kosice — a Slovak city then part of Hungary — in 1944, beating them with his bare hands and a dog whip regularly and without reason. He had also been charged with “actively participating” in the deportation of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps….On  June 2, 1944, Csatary rejected a request by one of the deportees to allow a ventilation hole to be cut into the wall of a railroad car on its way to a death camp and crammed with around 80 people.”Nazi War Criminal  Laszlo Csatary3

We would like to know that all war criminals had  their lives cut short by a swift justice that was handed down to them by high courts.  That is, unfortunately, not the case.  We are told by Efraim Zuroff, one of the last Nazi hunters and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem Office, that they were  “deeply disappointed” in Csatary’s death ahead of his possible trial in Hungary…“It is a shame that Csatary, a convicted … and totally unrepentant Holocaust perpetrator who was finally indicted in his homeland for his crimes, ultimately eluded justice and punishment at the very last-minute,” Zuroff said in a statement.

Csatáry tries to hide his face.

Csatáry tries to hide his face.

We would question whether Csatary truly eluded justice and punishment …..for his day is coming.   No earthly court sentenced him to a  shorter life when it should have, but his secret hours and sleep may have been one of nightmares and torment…for the “wicked have no rest”.   The Great Court and Judgment Day is Coming from which he and no other person will escape.  Many people do not want to consider this part of the Word of God because it is not comfortable to consider.  Nevertheless, if we are to believe even one word of the the Scriptures as truth, we cannot dismiss this part.  The other side of the grave will have much more than we can imagine.

The New and Old Testament Holy Scriptures tell us the following…let those who have ears to hear…hear….

Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Ezekiel38:17-23   “Thus says the Lord God: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them?  But on that day, the day that Gog (may refer to most of the middle eastern countries surrounding Israel) shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger.  For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.  The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground.  I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.  With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many people who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.  So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

We serve a just God…a merciful God to those who repent….a kind and generous God…whose patience will not endure forever.

ABANDONMENT …. Where are the fathers?

My last post showed the beauty of birth as we know it can be in the human and animal world.  Sometimes, however, it is not the act of giving birth, but the place that the birth takes place for humans that leads one to ask….why?

slums India

Poverty and the sexual drive do not mix when it is in conditions that cannot support life.   Recently, I was appalled to see a video that could have been made in many parts of the world…even in some less impoverished parts of the United States…but with the same problems….no money…no decent place to live…no fathers who take responsibility.   The question is not only “why?”, but why would a person who fathers a child ABANDON that child…or another question:    Why would a woman who is receiving no help keep allowing that same man to come back for more of the same?    It is certainly baffling.











The pictures that you see here are from areas around the world. There has always been some poverty in the United States.  Because of the economic down-turn and the loss of jobs, there is more.   Women who have baby after baby with no father to help provide is common in certain areas.

For the most part, we sit in our existence of plenty compared to these parts of the world.  The average person here really does not know what the rest of the world is like.  Even those who get government assistance to help feed the family, may still try to find a cell phone or a special electronic game because the children want it.  Hunger or malnutrition may exist, but it is rare that anyone will starve here.  There are community food banks run by churches and organizations and shelters for those without homes.  Some take advantage of these and others do not.   Yet the problems here are similar in some ways to the devastation seen in other places.   Again, we ask…..“Where are the fathers….who fathered these children?” 

Mother Teresa went to the most poor of the poor in India.   People I know go to Haiti on mission trips to try to help. Natural disasters do happen and wars make people flee for safety.  The very wealthy are trying, through their foundations, to eradicate disease and bring pure drinking water to those who need it around the world, but this does not change behavior.    Behavior is defined as:

  1. The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, esp. toward others.
  2. The way in which an animal or person acts in response to a particular situation.slums2

Again, we wonder if behavior is not changed, how can anything else be changed?   Men who have little self-worth to impregnate a woman and walk away…wherever he lives…in whatever country has degraded  human worth.  The woman who becomes an enabler to the one who abandons will, unfortunately, die in her own filthy bed.     Until behavior is changed, this situation around the world will only become worse…and the few who care can not prevent it from happening.

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Birth_ the Miracle of Life

In Spring, we see the buds on the trees and then the flowers.   In the Fall, we see the cycle of life once more with the trees going into a time of rest…just to begin the cycle of life once again.   It is the same with other forms of life and in each case it is a miracle given from God, the Creator.

Much was said about the new birth of a king to be recently.  It was as if the world stood still for a few days…waiting…waiting.   There was finally rejoicing as the new parents showed this new, fresh life for the first time.   Yes, his baby boy may make a difference to the world, but somewhere another of God’s creatures is giving birth with no fanfare at all.   None the less, it is a beautiful thing to behold and we are once again amazed at the way the body can produce something that at first seems to be only a mass…but after the struggle, it slowly makes its way out of its protective enclosure. It then appears as  pure elegance. The tender care of both mother and father…with quick adaption to a new life of fresh air and the effort to stand.    Truly, it is the miracle of life.

One may even think of this miracle as a metaphor, in miniature, of our own life…with its glory and our own effort to live and “stand” until the end.

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A PLEA to MOTHERS who don’t want their babies or CAN’T KEEP THEM

babiesA horrifying, graphic video surfaced in China recently that led me to write this to all pregnant women  who don’t want their babies or for some reason cannot keep them.   This message is also for the fathers of the child who often “ride into the sunset”, leaving a woman to struggle with this situation alone.

You may be  a young woman who  finds yourself pregnant…. whether from a one-night stand; a longer relationship or you are  in a country where  there are rules that families should only have a certain number of children.    Whatever the reason, this is not a judgment call….but A PLEA to you as a human being…maybe even a good human being who  finds yourself in a  situation that is tearing your life apart.   Reach out to an adoption agency.  

There will be people around you who will want to send you to someone to abort this baby. This may seem a  simple way out, but psychologically, it may haunt you the rest of your life. Those people will not have to live with this burden as a mother will.  I will add here that there are women who have had an abortion and through faith in God and prayers for forgiveness, they  have found peace.

Whether you are a  teen or a woman of any age that is terrified about your situation… not knowing what to do… seek help in finding a safe, good home for your child.   By doing so, you will have made a good thing out of  what could be a tragic decision.

There are families who will fly to China, Russia, Africa or to one of the states here in the USA to gladly give your  child a chance at life.   This is what they dream of …wish and pray for…and plan for.   JUST GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO LOVE  THE BABY YOU CANNOT KEEP.


(To understand the unfortunate penalties on this social issue in China, go to the following link .Chinese policies and abortions)

ACCEPTANCE…How important is it to you?

girl with cigarette

We all want to be accepted. It really doesn’t matter who we are or what we have in common with someone else…just accept us for who we are and don’t worry about the rest! Is this true?   It seems to be the socially and politically correct thing in the world today.   Just accept everyone…or most everything.   We can get  philosophical and remind ourselves of some of the things that we think of as acceptance:


  • Catholic Christians.. Understanding beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, acceptance is key to being a committed and devoted catholic.   That may include family planning; going to confession; repenting of sins and church attendance. This also is true of the emphasis other Christian groups place on their particular brand of Christian faith and commitment. worshipers
  • Jews… some similar beliefs in that they accept the Ten Commandments as a way to live and have a good and fulfilling life (Mcdowell and Stewart, 1983).Torah_scrollsislam_prayer_ms
  • Muslims.…acceptance of Allah as their higher being and the teachings of the Koran.

Whatever a person’s religious beliefs, they believe that acceptance of these parts of their faith is important to show structure and commitment in everyday life.   Let’s look at some other types of acceptance?


PERSONAL ACCEPTANCE   How people accept one another has a direct effect on the individual’s self-esteem and well-being. Does this have to be true?  We are told that this need for approval  will have a direct impact on a person’s life.  Some may even cause psychological disorders.  Examples are:  approval by parents; acceptance by work associates; peer pressure in schools ; living up the religious up-bringing or teachings and many more relationships.

We have to ask ourselves a  very important question.

Is total acceptance what we really want and is it good for us?    On the surface, it seems to be a good thing…but maybe not.

  • Is it best to be totally accepted by a peer group, whether work; at school, or socially?   What are their values?
  • Are there dangers to relationships  that keeps us in bondage to a person… such as a battered wife who feels there is no recourse?   We could elaborate on this where a male is concerned.
  • Is staying true to religious tenants that do not bring us to a peaceful, loving God, what we really need or want?

All of this seems complicated…and often we make it so.  The thing that is most important is the ACCEPTANCE OF ONE’S SELF. After all, we live with ourselves moment by moment.  We are told that we should not be so self-centered.  Why not?  Of course, we do not mean self-centered to the neglect of others or so wrapped-up in ourselves that no one else matters.

“Self acceptance (or self-centered, as we mean it)  is being happy with who you are now. It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this moment.”   If you find that things in your life need change, then work toward that…evaluating WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.

ACCEPTANCE…NOT RESIGNATION  People may asked how they can accept something or someone that has brought great pain in their life…death of a loved one; a divorce; sickness.   All these things may not be able to be changed.  They are what life has given. There is a difference between acceptance and resignation.   Realization that one can not change the past or the sadness of the present has a lot to do with acceptance.   This is living in reality…not in fantasy or wishful thinking.

“Accepting whatever the loss is, does not mean you are forgetting the loss or that you won’t ever feel sad again, but it’s a turning point that means better things are to come.” 

man thinkingAll of this is just food for thought as you may be asking yourself how important is  acceptance to you.   You may also be thinking about relationships, beliefs, and what works for you in your life.   Some things may worry you.

There is only One who fully accepts us just as we are and gives us the courage to face life daily.   We are told in the Holy Scriptures ( Philippians 4:6)  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

  In this video, we see that there are some unusual bonds of acceptance…and just as in humans…those bonds that seem like a good thing may turn out to give an outcome not anticipated.    I watched this video several times and heard words that I think also have to do with human behavior when it comes to acceptance…and a need for a relationship.  You will hear these words in the dialog:  obsession, bonds, controlling, complex emotions and intimacy.   All of these pull us into a need for acceptance…to our good or to our detriment.  In your own life, you will have to be the judge. 


On this MEMORIAL DAY,  Boyer Writes honors all those who responded to the call of duty to country and all freedom stands for….especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

After viewing the slide presentation, you may want to look at the different wars throughout history where and when the United States has sent troops to fight.   We are just one country.  Multiply this country and all wars in its history by all countries in the world and their fighting history….to make us one big, warring globe.

There are reasons, of course.  Some fight for their independence.  Others fight to maintain their freedom.  Many fight to rule over the weak, sick,and impoverished.

There are those who fight and murder in the name of God…religious wars.   Read your history and you will not be surprised for it happened when Muslims fought Christians; Christians fought in the Crusades; nations have tried to rid the world of Jews.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that we will call for “Peace….Peace….but there is no peace…”    Those who make predictions believe that before the coming of Christ to the earth a second time, there will be the greatest of all wars….in the Middle East.   This is not something for optimism.   Nevertheless, we are also told to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”….and the world.   We cannot control governments, groups, or individuals  who hate and destroy…but pray we can do.

General MacArthur, the great general of World War II made this statement about war.  

” I pray that an omnipotent providence will summon all persons of goodwill to to the realization of the utter futility of war. We have known the bitterness of defeat, the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned that there is no turning back. We must preserve in peace, what we won in war.

The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery has in fact now reached a point that revises the traditional concept of war. War, the most malignant scourge, and greatest sin of mankind, can no longer be controlled, only ABOLISHED! 

We are in a new era. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes between nations, Armageddon will be at our door…” 


( Click on arrow; turn on sound and enlarge picture for best viewing.  Music by St. Olaf Choir)


 Choose and click on a war listed to read information.

unknown soldier

Political Correctness NO MORE ! Hate and Terrorism on the Street and in History

terrorist in England

BLOOD ON HIS HANDS and holding the weapon that he had used to kill a man in cold blood on a  street in London.    THIS IS A TERRORIST AND ISLAMIC EXTREMIST (Boyer Writes decided not to show this video for this is what he wanted…even asking people to video tape it.   The news will show more than enough.)

We do want to show you the  young man that they murdered:  25 year old Drummer Lee Rigby 2nd battalion of The Royal Fusiliers    Our deepest sympathy to his family and loved ones.

25 year old Drummer Lee Rigby 2nd battalion of The Royal Fusiliers

25 year old Drummer Lee Rigby 2nd battalion of The Royal Fusiliers

People around the world  were shocked when terrorists  flew planes into the Twin Towers and the United States Pentagon  on 9-11.  Buildings came tumbling down,; planes crashed…killing  thousands of innocent people…including people who died from the terrorists’ own country and their own religion.

Yet, there was a difference…these men were not only terrorist but fanatics…evil, misguided  people who claimed their deeds would take them straight to paradise.   How people can get this far from truth in the name of religion is totally unbelievable.   No one can comprehend it.

Our British friends, across the great pond, have just experienced the same terror in miniature…a single soul murdered …walking on a street in daylight….minding his own business…hurting no one.   The terrorist ask for people to make pictures…knowing that they would probably die when they planned to attack police as they come to the scene. (Thankfully, the police only injured them…keeping them from their journey to “paradise”…or eternal damnation.   Perhaps their interrogation will shed some light on their sources.)

This is the picture of hate…Islamic extremist… evil.   People must call it what it is and not dance around the issue in the name of political correctness.   We would call on all peace-loving Muslim leaders to call press conferences and condemn these attacks; setting their congregations straight on what God wants for the people on earth as we live together.   It is strange that there is so much silence in this area.

SHOCKING….DISGUSTING….EVIL… 9-11 in New York…at Fort Hood as well as other places…and in London  this week.    Extremism in the name of religion did not start…or will not stop here. History is full of it.


I took a test, offered by the Christian Science Monitor, to see exactly how much I know about terrorism and history.  Unfortunately, I failed miserably.   You may want to see if you can do better.  You will make your selections and get a score at the end.  It is eye-opening. 

   All questions on Terrorism

Armed Forces Day in the United States

A Thank you to our Armed Service 

In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May.

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches under the Department of Defense.

  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S Marine Corps
  • U.S. Air Force
  • U.S. Coast Guard

folding flag

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. In 1962,President John. F. Kennedy  established Armed Forces Day as an official holiday. The United States’ longest running city-sponsored Armed Forces Day Parade is held in Bremerton, Washington.  They will celebration 65 years this year.  

Fly your flag this weekend and remember to thank our service men and women wherever they have served.   They have given so much…time away from families….their health and their limbs and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice.      They are the ones who are called upon when our country’s freedom is threatened.   They are our Armed Forces.    There are not enough words to thank them.

flying flags

The Wretch Who Could Finally See

 John Newton is well-known in Christian circles, but may not be someone you have heard of….or at least you think you haven’t.   If you have ever been to a memorial or funeral, chances are you have heard the song he wrote about his life.   Yet, you may not have known anything about the man himself.   Here’s a summary of John Newton’s life  in a few sentences:

  • Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean.
  • In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman.
  • ship English slave ship2Finally at his own request he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone.    Being a servant of a slave trader, he was brutally abused.
  • Rescued later,  John Newton ultimately became captain of his own slave ship, but his life was about to change. ship English slave
  • John Newton drawing
  • His mother died when he was a child and Newton had no real religious convictions.
  • However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance” which was his conversion to Christianity. He wrote in a journal ( May 10, 1748) that he believed  “Lord, had mercy upon us.”   This, he believed, was his moment of grace and God had begun to work in his life.
  • He continued in the slave trade for a time after his conversion; however, he saw to it that the slaves under his care were treated humanely.
  • He married and began educating himself; teaching himself Latin and other subjects.
  • Newton also met and came to admire John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Newton’s self-education continued, and he learned Greek and Hebrew.
  • From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Newton became Whitefield’s enthusiastic disciple.
  • Deciding to become a minister, he applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination and was refused.
  • Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire.
  • In 1780 Newton become rector of St. Mary Woolnoth church, in London. There he drew large congregations and influenced many, among them William Wilberforce, who would one day become a leader in the campaign for the abolition of slavery. Newton continued to preach until the last year of life, although he was blind by that time. He died in London December 21, 1807.  Calling himself  a “wretch”  he was secure in his faith that God’s amazing grace would lead him home.

John Newton book


  • BEST KNOWN FOR WRITING THE WORDS TO THE HYMN  AMAZING GRACE which showed his feelings about his life and God’s grace toward him.   (a portion of which is written here).

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,   I have already come;’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,And grace will lead me home…

Pain and suffering was part of  John Newton’s life and pain and suffering is in our world today.  Newton would probably be amazed at how many times his beautiful song, often played with bagpipes, has been sung and played at memorials of those we lovingly remember… shown below.



boston marathon ambulancesPsalm 46: 1-3

God is our hope and strength,
a very present
help in trouble.

Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be
and though the hills be carried into the midst of the

Though the waters thereof rage and swell,
and though the
mountains shake at the tempest of the same…


medical boston marathonPrayer for Comfort and Hope

Grant unto us, Almighty God, in all time of sore distress, the comfort of the forgiveness of our sins. In time of darkness give us blessed hope, in time of sickness of body give us quiet courage; and when the heart is bowed down, and the soul is very heavy, and life is a burden, and pleasure a weariness, and the sun is too bright, and life too mirthful, then may that Spirit, the Spirit of the Comforter, come upon us, and after our darkness may there be the clear shining of the heavenly light; that so, being uplifted again by Thy mercy, we may pass on through this our mortal life with quiet courage, patient hope, and unshaken trust, hoping through Thy loving-kindness and tender mercy to be delivered from death into the large life of the eternal years. Hear us of Thy mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord – Amen.

Prayer written by George Dawson

Concert Music in Honor of those whose lives were taken.

Holocaust Remembrance Day…A Grave- Digger makes a Difference

Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Hall of Names in Israel

Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Hall of Names in Israel

Today, Sunday, April 14. 2013 begins Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day .  It doesn’t seem like any time since I took Student Ambassadors to Poland and we visited Auschwitz. None of us will ever be the same.

Steven Spielberg has made it his mission to record the lives of survivors so that future generations will understand what hatred, prejudice and war can do to people.Once the people who fought WWII and the Holocaust survivors have died, their voices will be silenced forever….except for these recordings.

In this same group of Student Ambassadors, there was one young Jewish man who wanted to find the apartment building where the Israeli Olympic team had been murdered.  We looked and looked; finally finding a small plaque to remembered the event.  Given the gravity of this terrible tragedy, it seemed far too small. This was the same young man who had impressed me with his sincerity and dedication to the memory of over 6,000 Jews and some Christians, who lost their lives in concentration camps, death marches and more during World War II.  Gently he laid a wreath of flowers in the spot at the base of a wall where hundreds had been shot in this one concentration camp called Auschwitz.

After returning from that trip, I felt that the students in our Florida county needed to know as much about the Holocaust as possible.  With financial help from the community and parents of students, we raised enough funds to place in every school library tapes, books and age-appropriate material about the Holocaust.

Holocaust plaque St Annes Church PolandRecently I read about a grave-digger who was told to bury all the Jews in the woods. These were those shot on a death march.  Instead, he buried them in  St. Anna’s Roman Catholic Church in Swierklany, Poland.    This is only after he had carefully copied all the numbers from each victim’s arm.  Some seventy years later and with research from Yad Vasham in Israel, some relatives now know that Christians carefully buried the bodies of their loved ones.  A new memorial has been erected with a cross.   The new plaque at the previously unmarked grave in Swierlany, Poland now reads: “In memory of the death march victims from Aushwitz-Birkenau,” and lists the victims concentration camp numbers or names. ‘  The caring of one grave digging man, who believed differently from those he buried, made all the difference over 70 years later to a family who simply wanted to know what had happened to their loved one.

Today as the sirens wail, they stop in the streets and cars stop on the highways …wherever they are…to remember again. We too must never forget!

If you have not seen Auschwitz in Poland, the film below gives a walk-through with Rick Steves of what is left and what visitors can see today.  It is not our purpose here to try to re-create the horrors that went on here.  Probably the closest to that would be to watch Schindler’s List, produced by Spielberg, about a Christian man who saved many Jews by taking them to work in his factory.

Chaplains Make a Difference “Would you care to say a prayer with me?”

My husband was a chaplain in the Navy for many years.  He is still called upon to do military funerals and this means a great deal to him. He often stops by a table in a restaurant and thanks an older veteran or a young service man for their “service to our country”.  A dear friend of ours has served on a number of tours to Afghanistan and other areas of the world as a Christian chaplain.  Some chaplains, however, who served faithfully and  given more than could be expected, have never received the highest honor our nation has to offer, but one will finally have that honor….62 years late. ..thanks to fellow soldiers who are senior citizens now.

Chaplain Emil Kapaun

Chaplain Emil Kapaun

Writings  by Sharon Cohen  and Lawrence Grayson tells us the story of  Chaplain Emil Kapaun in what is called the “Forgotten War”…Korea.  In the light of recent events of North Korea’s threats, it would be good to not forget what our troops suffered there and sacrificed to make what is now South Korea the vibrant nation that it is today.

On Easter morning, March 25, 1951, the Catholic priest mounted the steps  of a partially destroyed church, and turned to face his congregation,  some 60 men – gaunt, foul-smelling, in tattered clothing.

Fr. Emil  Kapaun raised a small, homemade, wooden cross to begin a prayer service,  led the men in the Rosary, heard the confessions of the Catholics, and  performed a Baptism.  Then, he wept because there was no bread or wine  to consecrate so that the men could receive the Eucharist.”

“The Rev. Emil Kapaun was weak, his body wracked by pneumonia and dysentery. After six brutal months in the hellish camp, the once sturdy Kansas farmer’s son could take no more. Thousands of soldiers had already died, some starving, others freezing to death. Now the end was near for the chaplain.Lt. Mike Dowe said goodbye to the man who’d given him hope during those terrible days. The young West Point grad cried, even as the chaplain, he says, tried to comfort him with his parting words: “Hey, Mike, don’t worry about me. I’m going to where I always wanted to go and I’ll say a prayer for all of you.”
Lt. Robert Wood wept, too, watching the Roman Catholic chaplain bless and forgive his captors. He helped carry Kapaun out of the mud hut and up a hill on a stretcher after Chinese soldiers ordered he be moved to a hospital — a wretched, maggot-filled place the POWs dubbed “the death house.” There was little or no medical care there. Kapaun died on May 23, 1951.
These two soldiers — and many more — never forgot their chaplain. Not his courage in swatting away an enemy soldier pointing a gun at a GI’s head. Not his talent for stealing food, then sneaking it to emaciated troops. Not the inspiring way he rallied his “boys,” as he called them, urging them to keep their spirits up.Chaplain Emil Kapaun4The plain-spoken, pipe-smoking, bike-riding chaplain was credited with saving hundreds of soldiers during the Korean War…”Chaplain Emil Kapaun3
What was Fr.  like as a person?
Roy Wenzl tells us. “Father Emil Kapaun was considered an unusual man even before the 8th Cavalry’s 3rd Battalion was overrun at Unsan.
Many devout Christians believe, for example, that they must overtly preach Christianity, but Kapaun by all accounts never lectured, never forced it. What he did instead was scrounge food for soldiers, write letters to their families, pass his tobacco pipe around for a few puffs, and run through machine gun fire, rescuing wounded. If he brought up religion in foxholes, he asked permission first: “Would you care to say a prayer with me?”
He treated Protestants, Jews and atheists the same way he treated Catholics — and he treated Catholics like loved ones. Some GIs did not like some chaplains. They loved this one
.…Survivors at Unsan broke out and fought south through the hills. Most were captured. Chinese soldiers stole their watches, rings, helmets and boots. Some of them thought this was the end, that they’d be shot now. The enemy in Korea frequently murdered prisoners. Sgt. Herb Miller, his ankle shredded and bleeding, rode away from slaughter on Kapaun’s back.Lt. Walt Mayo, who had saved Kapaun the first time he was captured at Unsan, escaped from the perimeter with his friend Phil Peterson, running across a road covered with dead Chinese. They were captured three days later. Mayo, who spent four months in a German prisoner of war camp in World War II, would spend 34 months in a camp more deadly.”

After all these years, with pressure on Washington and so many hundreds of Korean veterans dying, the honor due this chaplain is finally happening.

This brave chaplain will finally receive this country’s Medal of Honor.  Two lieutenants who served with him, now age 85 and 86, will join in the ceremony to honor Chaplain Kapaun.  “What he did and what he meant is so important,” Dowe says. “It’s worth finding a way to carry that forward. … I can only say I’m glad it’s happening. It’s a shame it couldn’t have been sooner.”Chaplain Emil Kapaun2

  Ray Kapaun, a family member, says, ” This day would never have arrived without their (fellow soldiers’) persistence. Some didn’t live to witness the ceremony, but others will finally see their beloved chaplain given the recognition they’ve called for so long.
Under extreme circumstances, this Chaplain would ask a soldier if he could minister to their needs…physically or spiritually.    How often do we have that same opportunity when a person is in trouble, sick or dying, or simply sad.  How difficult we find  to step out of our comfort and just ask.  How often is the opportunity not taken……to say…..  “Would you care to say a prayer with me?”

York: The Shambles and International Market

IMG_0403The aromas are almost magical…spices simmering in large pots of onions, mushrooms, and sausages.  Today we visit the International Food Market in York, England.   Located close to the famous Shambles District of the city, people mill around with their families deciding which delicacy should be theirs….breads, chocolate-covered donuts, olives  and much more from every ethnic part of the world.

The Shambles, for hundreds of years, had been the place of meat butchers.  Even then, people would have come to this area to find their fresh meat.  The narrow, cobble-stone streets are now shops with a historic sign or place of some main event that had happened here….such as the martyred young wife and mother, Margaret Clitherow (shown below), who refused to give up her faith that was not sanctioned at the time.

160px-Margaret_Clitherow In 1586, she was arrested and called before the York assizes for the crime of harboring  Roman Catholic priests. She refused to plead to the case to prevent a trial that would entail her children being made to testify, and therefore being subjected to torture. As a result she was executed by being crushed to death,  being the standard punishment for refusal to plead, on Good Friday 1586. ( I will write more about her another time.)

Now, enjoy the special International Market of York, England.

The CRY of Mothers for help for the mentally ill

The author of the article below made an amazing statement that caught my attention after the tragedy in Connecticut.  She said, ” I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help”   Being a teacher for many years and a parent, my heart was sick that such a thing could happen to innocent, little children.   That is why I want to share this article below taken from the Blue Review, a nonprofit journal based at Boise State University.    Help must come and our country must heal with help from God as we deal with those who have mental disorders.

The complete article below:

Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children.     Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

“Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9-year-old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son on to a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all. 

Music for Advent:    Rhema Marvanne is a 7 year old with a talent from God.

The beautiful voices of choir boys


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