Archive | May 2013

The Unknown Soldier

Memorial-day-2013As I thought about the upcoming Memorial Day, I surfed the web to see what interesting tidbit I could discover, and ended up on YouTube looking at videos of the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You cannot view the ceremony without realizing how far we have come, and I’m not so sure it is in the right direction.

Today, we take a more casual approach to life as a whole and this includes the way we celebrate our special days. Even though we have our picnics and parades, we typically regard the day as the coming of summer. Alas we can break out the white shoes and officially move into a more relaxed mode. Yet these men of the Old Guard recognize the importance of this memorial and regardless of the calendar’s date, time of day, or atmospheric conditions, and man their posts to carry out their duties with honor and decorum.

Not only is it impressive to watch the guards march back and forth, it is also captivating to see that it is not merely a rote exercise. When people step out of line, they move into action to execute their responsibilities. Check out this video. Fortunately, a word to the wise was sufficient.

They know this unknown veteran paid the ultimate price with his life, and it is his sacrifice and that of others like him that allows them and all of us to continue to enjoy the rewards that come with freedom.  Let’s use this Memorial Day to remember as we enjoy the fruits of freedom they purchased for us.

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What a difference 7 days can make!

Last week we visited family in the Adirondacks to celebrate my grandson’s graduation – how this sweet baby grew up so fast is beyond me – but I digress. The mountains are known for delayed springs. I expected chilly weather and was not disappointed, yet when the spring snow came, however, it provided impetus to complain. Even the locals expressed their dismay. It was time for warm weather. This week, I am home in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the temperature is 84, and people are complaining that they are hot and uncomfortable because of the heat and elevated humidity. Isn’t there a better way to take action and expend our energy? Why, I wonder, are we humans so prone to complain about the weather and think it is okay?

ComplaintsAccording to Wikipedia’s Free Dictionary, the word complain is an action verb meaning to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event and includes synonyms repine, grumble, lament and moan.

Although I have heard that several governments, including the US, are trying to control the weather by various means, obviously they have not succeeded to the point where everyone is satisfied. We still complain and regardless if we prefer cool or warm temperatures, we complain. It’s second nature to us. Yet it seems to me we are wasting our time. (Notice I’m including myself in these statements because I’m as guilty as anyone else.)

Wouldn’t it be more productive to complain about something we can change? What if we complained instead about the dirty windows in our house? We could get out the cleaning solution and rags and make them shine. Then we would have something to rejoice about. We could send out positive messages about shiny windows and invite our friends to rejoice with us. We could throw a party. If the windows were really bad to start with and obvious to passersby, we’d have no problem getting people to come. But no, we complain about something that it is impossible to change.

Perhaps we use the weather as a level playing field, a point of commonality, to initiate conversations – you know, break the ice. It does work because everyone will join in, yet grumbling and complaining are negative characteristics and instead of building people up, it drags people down. Who needs more of that?

It seems to me it will take an intentional effort to change my thoughts and expressions about the weather, but I’m going to give it a try. After all, it takes intentionality to do anything worthwhile. So here’s the deal. You have my permission to remind me the next time I complain about the weather that there is a positive aspect that I am missing. Who knows, it may filter down to other areas where I struggle to do better.

Why is it we’re never happy?

spring has sprung Keukenhof09Appearances are deceiving. I’m looking outside my window at actual green leaves on a few of the trees, fading flowers and buds on others, grass that needs mowing (my neighbor’s yard), and perennials poking up besides the blooming bulbs. It looks like spring. The air sports an aroma of spring, BUT it’s still cool. What is up with this? We should have temperatures in the high 70’s. Although I don’t want to lose the temperatures in the 60’s we’ve been experiencing to return to the 20’s and 30’s, it’s still sweatshirt and fleece weather.

Why is it we’re never happy?

It is absolutely beautiful outdoors, yet in my way of thinking, all the windows should be open to let in the fresh air. I could do that without the heat going on, but honestly, it’s too cool to be comfortable. So I will just crack the door and let in a little. That brings me back to my – and a whole bunch of others’ – discontent. If discontent leads to improvement, then it can be a good thing, right? So I’m going to try to find 10 good things about cooler temperatures.

  1. You can go outdoors without a heavy coat.
  2. You can work outdoors without getting covered in sweat.
  3. The work is rewarding because the weeds you just pulled don’t come back overnight.
  4. The biting bugs aren’t out yet.
  5. The birds have returned and you can enjoy their playful antics.
  6. The daffodils and tulips are more vibrant.
  7. The spring flowers seemed to last longer in the cool temperatures.
  8. Nature continues to move in the direction of spring as opposed to waiting.
  9. The ground is not hard and is more workable.
  10. The air is fresh and invigorating.
  11. People seem friendlier because they’re anxious to get outdoors and share with one another.

I did it. I found more than the required 10. And I’m no longer as put out by the cooler temperatures. Maybe I will try this again when a spirit of discontent overtakes me – like when I think it’s too hot. It seems like the process is therapeutic.

Does anyone really observe the National Day of Prayer?

National Day of Prayer ndop-2013-sccacc-wordpress-pageI typically listen to the radio when I have “mindless” tasks like curling my hair, cleaning the bathroom, etc. to do. I’m an auditory learner, so I really am engaged. This morning I was challenged and humbled at the number of men and women who called in to the Focus on the Family broadcast – not to ask questions, not to air their opinions, not to challenge authority, but to pray on this National Day of Prayer. The response was huge!

Each one of them prayed for our country

  • our government leaders from the President down to the janitors in the White House
  • our Congressmen and women
  • our state legislators
  • our local officials
  • our military
  • our Supreme Court Justices and throughout the court system – I should have added lawyers to the mix.

Other groups I had not thought to add to my original list were the families of the military, especially those who were still grieving the loss of a child, spouse or sibling who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

Interestingly, the biggest challenge and emphasis was not for the President and leaders, but for the church in America that we might be humbled and focused to seek God with our whole hearts. This is indeed a challenging thought. If God is going to be glorified in our nation and if we are going to have any measure of peace and safety, cleansing of hearts and lives will have to begin with God’s people and that includes me. I told you I was challenged. How about you?