Sunday, November 23, 2014

Take it to the Cross

We pray.

We praise.

We beg.

We fast.

We stew.

We talk.

We complain.

We ask forgiveness.

We resent.

We replay memories in our minds like old movies, as if that could change the past.

We work like dogs to “make up’ for past failures and sins.

We put aside pleasure for drudgery in vain attempts to be perfect — when we already now we cannot be.

Paul, in Romans 3:23, says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Thank God for Grace!

And Paul picks us back up in the very next verse: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

He goes on, in Romans 3:25: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in this blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

There’s a key phrase in that verse:

“For the remission of sins …”

It doesn’t say, “only MY sins.”

It doesn’t say, “only YOUR sins.”

It doesn’t say, “only THAT GUY’S sins.”

And it also, and this is very important “It doesn’t say, “NOT the sins of the person who sinned against me.”

It says “sins” — period.

So if I’ve been replaying old sad movies in my head — dredging up someone else’s sin,

What am I doing? — I’m exhibiting unbelief.

At some point in my spiritual maturity, to grow, I have to let go of those sins — not only my sins, but the sins of others that I have continued to claim as mine to hold, mine to forgive (or not).

Moreover, I have to finally and fully let go of issues that I have given to God — again and again — issues I give to God, and then let my mind run free and go back and pick right back up.

I need to let God do His job — and to do my job — which is worshipping Him and sharing His good news.

We pray, and talk about prayer in every church service. We are supposed to pray without ceasing — but we are also not supposed to keep picking up old dead issues that God has already dealt with.
But we do. We reinforce our fears by repeatedly praying about them, rather than giving them to God and thanking him for our deliverance.

I have been considering this, and thought of a dog with an old bone — he carries it around, plays with it, chews on it, and buries it. Sometime later he goes back, digs it up, chews on it a while and buries it.

He repeats this exercise until the bone is all chewed up. Lost or someone looks at the rotten old thing and finally throws it away. Then, he’s finally free to find a new, meatier bone with better taste and some nutrient value..

This is where we as humans and children of God must exercise discernment — we’ve got to develop the level of spiritual maturity that lets us know when to finally bury that old worn out bone we’ve been worrying once and for all.

Now don’t be confused.

I’m not talking about all prayers. We have many examples of people who have been saved after years of prayer by family members and loved ones.

I’m talking about prayers that we just have on automatic repeat — the ones that wear us and God out.

“God — I want you to forgive me.” — We know in our brain that we have to repent and ask forgiveness one time. God has forgiven you. Once you prayed a prayer of repentance and accepted that wondrous, freely-offered gift of Salvation, you were forgiven.

You had only one thing to do — leave those things of your past at the cross.

One thing that is required for prayer — not a place, or a time or a posture — is that we must pray in faith. We must believe that God is our loving Father who wants only the best for us — that can be a hard image for people who didn’t have a perfect earthly father. But it’s one that we need to develop and maintain. He is the epitome of “Daddy” — Our Father God who sacrificed the most precious thing in the universe so that we might be saved, and have life more abundant.

Though I’m not quite comfortable calling my heavenly Father “Daddy,” I’ve learned from people who do. I get daily email devotionals from Max Lucado, and this month’s series is on prayer.

In one he says Jesus invites us to approach Go the way a child approaches his daddy. How do children approach their daddies? Lucado describes boy who see their fathers in the parking lot after school:

One yells “Yippee!”

One yells “Pop! Over here! Push me!”

He says what he didn’t hear was “Father, it is most gracious of thee to drive thy car to my place of education. Please know of my deep gratitude for your benevolence. For thou art splendid in thy attentive care and diligent in thy dedication.”

What he heard was kids who were happy to see their dad and wanted to talk with them and spend time with them. God invites us to approach him in the same way.

Another illustration Lucado gives is when he daughter flubbed her piano piece at a recital, and he was heartbroken for her. When she got off stage, she ran to him, flung her arms around him and buried her face in his shirt and could only say, “Oh Daddy!” Lucado says prayer starts there.

Now that, I understand. 

And often, “Oh Daddy!” “Dear Father” “Oh, Lord!” is enough. He hears that plea, and He acts to help us. All we have to do is believe.

Jeremiah 33:2 – 3 says:
“This is what the LORD says, He who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it — the LORD is His name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

And that’s what many times I’m really praying for: God to tell me things I do not know. Which is usually, “What does God want me to do?”

So there’s one last thing I must do. And it’s the hardest of all:

I’ve prayed.

I’ve listened for God’s answer, direction, or peace about the situation.

I’ve acted on that.

But what must I do that I too often fail to do?

Like the old hymn says, “Leave it there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there."

We must all be diligent about leaving it at the cross.

In the last months at my church, we’ve talked a lot about symbolic chains — and when I received the inspiration for this lesson, I was given a prop.

For you who are reading this, it is a cross. What are the burdens you’ve been taking back — the ones that you keep carrying to God, and taking right back again?

Find a card or a piece of paper, and something to write with. I encourage you to write that burden down as you prepare to lay it down. It doesn’t have to be a book. It might be a word, or even a symbol that makes sense only to you. It can, and perhaps should be illegible to any human. Even an X — as long as it has meaning to you, it will have meaning to God.

Put that burden down on that card, and as you pray, take your card to the cross. Hang it on that chain, which will no longer bind you.

And leave it there.

And if at any time you are tempted to go dig that old bone back up, remember, you are done with that bit of bondage. You are free in Christ, and that, my friend, is free indeed!

I pray today that you are set free to enjoy life, and life abundant in Christ Jesus, our blessed savior. For that IS God's Holy Will.

Bless you.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Small Things

Months ago, I was with a friend and her teen-aged daughter, shoe shopping in a store where the shoes on sale/clearance are arranged by size. The three of us wear an above-average-size shoe — the largest size carried in that store. As we shopped, a young couple walked through the area — the woman dressed very stylishly — she stood next to us and looked at the rack of shoes for a moment, then said to her companion, “These are HUGE” and stomped away as if it were a personal crisis of some sort to be exposed to shoes of such enormity. Her tone was negative, snotty, and it felt like an arrow to my heart.

My friend and I looked at each other in shock. That carelessly tossed comment brought hurt, anger and memories from those times as a young girl I’d been the recipient of direct barbs on my size or choice of shoes and clothing.

Sure, the other woman was just commenting about the shoes, and ignoring us, but even so, the three of us wear that size shoe, and we’ve all endured teasing about our big feet. Minor things to worry about in today’s world, certainly, but another ding in the armor of self-esteem, which for a young girl today, can mean the difference between good choices to protect and honor herself and choices that can make an impact on the rest of her life.

A young person who is raised to be valued will value him or herself. One who continually hears criticism, derision and negative comments won’t have much self-value, and is open to a flattering tongue.

The tongue is a small thing, but it can be so powerful a weapon, or so powerful a balm.

How often have my unthinking words, uttered to the world at large served as an arrow to another’s heart?

James 3 says a lot about our words and actions. One version entitled this chapter:

The Untamable Tongue
3 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed,[a] we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.[b]

Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

David, in Psalm 5, gives us hope for our unbridled tongues as well:
Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
    you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
    you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.
Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight before me.
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
    their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
    with their tongues they tell lies.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
    Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

And in Psalm 37:
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.

It’s not always our words though. When my first child was born, I was amazed at how often people in stores would walk up and press their parenting ideas on me. Strangers had opinions on the amount of clothing or blankets I used for the baby, wanted to know whether I was nursing or bottle feeding, if I had a natural childbirth, how much the baby weighed, etc., etc., .. and had opinions on each of those subjects. Some were pleasant, and some were, well, downright disturbing.

One lady though, really stood out to me. My daughter had begun fussing in the buggy. I was trying to juggle her, the buggy and finish shopping to pay out and get her home. People were giving me all kinds of looks, pity, irritation, sympathetic smiles, you know. But an older woman walking by paused briefly, stopped and whispered in my daughter’s ear and straightened up. My daughter stopped fussing and looked at her with big eyes. Then, I was able to keep her calm. The woman explained that she had learned that a quick, positive distraction, like whispering into the ear often worked to stop a fuss child. It was the best non-solicited parenting advice I got.

That was a small, thoughtful act — one I was so grateful for.

Sometimes these unheeding actions have permanent results. I saw something small recently that affected me deeply and made me think even harder on how our words and actions affect others, even when we have no idea what we’ve done.

I was at a hotel for a meeting, standing in the foyer while making a phone call.

I idly noted a little black beetle cruising the tiles, harming nothing.
A woman hurried inside and her first step crushed the bug. She didn't even notice.
I'm saddened by the sudden tragedy, however small.
How many times have I, in my hurry and busy-ness, stomped on something unheeded. Many more than I wish to know, I'm afraid.

If any of those were your feelings, dreams or passions, I hereby apologize and ask your forgiveness. I'm learning to be more mindful.

What I hope by sharing these words is that we will all be more mindful. Small things matter. And God created us for His purpose, so we are no small things.

Matthew 10:29 - 31
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6 - 7
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?[a] And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

1 Kings 19: God’s Revelation to Elijah
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Moment's Musing

I'm at a hotel for a meeting, standing in the foyer while making a phone call. I idly note a little black beetle cruising the tiles, harming nothing.

A woman hurries inside and her first step crushes the bug. She doesn't even notice.

I'm saddened by the sudden tragedy, however small.

How many times have I, in my hurry and busy-ness, stomped on something unheeded. Many more than I wish to know, I'm afraid.

If any of those were your feelings, dreams or passions, I hereby apologize and ask your forgiveness. I'm learning to be more mindful.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Standing on the Rock, or Being a Rock of Faith

My grandson has collected odd rocks from the first time he toddled outside. He has always picked up rocks, not necessarily very special rocks, just any old rock. He has some sort of affinity for rocks.

I have to admit that I like rocks. When Hubby and I had a water garden business, we spent a lot of time out in the country with a winch truck, picking up beautiful and interesting rocks to build ponds, waterfalls and dry streams. We had a couple of big boulders that were special: one of them was my Valentine’s present one year, and that’s an entirely different story for another time. Some of the stones we collected moved with us to three houses, and I still have one stone outside — given to me by friends — that I will move with me to the day I die. It’s a solid symbol of friendship and warms my heart.

I have somewhere in my keepsakes a little jar of pretty polished stones that I picked up on a trip with my best friend when I was about 13 – more than 40 years ago. I can come across that jar, look at those stones and it takes me back to a foggy beach in California, and my first kiss. .. that’s another story that I won’t tell here.

I have a lantern filled with rocks and shells from a beach trip with GL and other family members a few years ago. I collected a bagful and bought the lantern to display them when I got home. I look at that lantern and remember that fun vacation.

A couple of years ago we went to Cape Cod, and I brought back a few rocks and tiny shells. Those rest on a shelf in my dining room, and one small black stone stays in my purse. When I find it as I rummage for change, it brings me warm memories.

In one of a series of mystery books I read long ago, the protagonist — the main character — once told someone about his philosophy on the length of life. He said that as he sees it, figuratively, all people on earth are standing in a river. And a person’s length and quality of life depends largely on where each person stands in that river, how firm his or her foothold, how much protection from the current or the shifting sands of the riverbed, or the debris that floats down that river. He felt that people didn’t have a lot of choice in where they landed in the river, but they could hold on, and they could always work toward better position. Some stood in the shallows, on solid ground, some were dashed up against rocks, some hid in the shelter of rocks. Maybe some stood on top of a rock. But those that didn’t make it to rock — those whose feet were on shifting sand — would be swept away by the current long before others who had found a firm place to stand.

That river illustration came strongly to me as we were singing “Cornerstone” in worship a few weeks ago: “Christ alone, Cornerstone, weak made strong in the savior’s love. Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.”

As Christians, we have Christ’s love as our Rock. We have our faith in him that helps us stand our ground against the currents and tides of daily life, against the storms, the principalities, the powers and rulers of the darkness of this age, as it says in Ephesians 6.

Thanks to Bible Gateway ...

Ephesians 6:

The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

We are told to put on armor, but we’re also to find firm footing: a rock. And to Stand.

In hymn after hymn, we’re told to look to the rock:

Going to the Rock of my salvation, going to the stone that the builder rejected. And when my heart is overwhelmed, He leads me to the Rock.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide, myself in thee.

Jesus used rocks in his illustrations and parables:

That river story has always reminded me of one of Jesus’ parables:

Luke 6:
Build on the Rock

46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

Many of the names we have for Jesus Christ are related to rock:


Rock that the builder rejected

The Keystone.

I’m betting that almost every person in this room has at least one keepsake rock .. on a shelf, in a box, in your purse, or on your finger.

One of the most important rocks in a woman’s life is often the “rock” she receives as a token of engagement. It’s a symbol of a lifetime commitment. — a rock-solid promise!

Finally, we almost all get a rock with our final resting place too. The headstone is a vital part of the grieving process for the loved ones who are left behind. Planning it, waiting for it, seeing it set, and visiting the grave to view it .. what do we look at, the headstone.

A search of Bible Gateway brought up 135 references for Rock. I won’t list them all, don’t worry.

But a few:

In Exodus, the children of Israel received water from a rock in the desert.

Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect …” other verses in that chapter mention the Rock as the Lord.

The Psalms are full of references to God as our Rock:

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:31
For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?

Psalm 18:46
The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

Psalm 28:1
[ Rejoicing in Answered Prayer ] [ A Psalm of David. ] To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock: Do not be silent to me, Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 89:26
He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’

Isaiah 17:10
Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, Therefore you will plant pleasant plants And set out foreign seedlings;

Isaiah 44:8
Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”

1 Samuel 2:2
“No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

 New Testament Rock sayings:
Matthew 7:24: Build on the Rock

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Romans 9:33
As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

1 Corinthians 10:4 
... and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

1 Peter 2:8
and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

So what does the word Rock mean to you?

What does A Rock mean to you?

It might be Christ.








What does Going to the Rock mean to you?

It could also be a symbol: the sign of the fish, a dove, a cross, a halo, an angel’s wing, sunrise, a lamb.

A reference to a verse.

Whatever speaks to you.

My prayer:


You are our Rock. The one true God, name of all names, and there is no God like You. You gave Christ your son as our risen savior, The Word, the Way, the Truth, the Life. He sent the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Counselor.

We are never alone, and we are never without a firm foundation of solid Rock to stand upon, or a cleft of Rock to hide in if need be.

Guide us each day, in every way. Make us the instrument of salvation for others. Help us to demonstrate that we have found You. Our Rock. And that in You we have faith, hope, love and salvation that gives us everlasting life.

You are our Truth, the one thing we can always count on: our Rock.

Thank You. We give You all the Praise and the Glory, in the Holy Name of Jesus.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

I overheard someone else say it, but I couldn't say it better.

"It's the hardest, best thing I've ever done."

The man's comment was in response to another person's expression of appreciation for his Patriot Guard mission. We were on our first mission. It won't be our last.

We've planned to join, procrastinated, and finally got our packet earlier this month. Desultorily I've looked at the mission forum, but nothing was convenient.

Patriot Guard is not about convenience.

It's about mission.

It's about dedication.

It's about paying homage to veterans. To heroes.

It's about America.

Yesterday a naval corpsman was being laid to rest in a town not from our city. The Patriot Guard were asked to escort him to his final resting place. And late the afternoon before the service, it was said that an infamous cult planned to protest the funeral.

We weren't planning anything else but chores and relaxation. So we decided to make this our first mission.

The day was hot and threatened storms. We geared up, stuck some water bottles in a cooler with an ice pack and headed out. Left early so we could have a nice lunch. We hit a little rain, nothing bad. Had our lunch and headed to the church where the funeral would be held.

At every major crossroads, bikes pulled in ahead or behind us. When we turned from the courthouse onto Main Street, we could see the turn to the church about a mile down the road. It was solid with bikes, law enforcement vehicles and civilian pickups ... even a few cars (this is Texas!). Flags lined the road from the courthouse to the church.

We were directed into a double-line along the curb, then asked to move across the street to form another double line. A large firetruck sat in the middle of the road on which we gathered, ladder up, Navy flag flying. Diesel engine rumbling. Various firefighters and law enforcement officers stood around, talking quietly.

Bikes kept arriving. We sought some shade, drank water. More bikes arrived. People were walking through the crowd. Many carried flags. Some dressed for the services. Some dressed to stand outside and show their respect. Almost all carried a cameras or used a cell phone to record the events.

Military personnel trickled through the crowd. Bright white navy uniforms. Army BDUs. Marine sported dress blues. All crowd members were friendly. All were somber. All were determined. Only a few showed anger at the thought of the protesters showing up. Few, if any, really believed they would. Again and again, people thanked bikers for coming. Bikers thanked law enforcement for their service. People offered water to strangers. Townspeople greeted one another.

As we obediently gathered for the safety meeting it struck me as incongruous: for so long the public perception has been that bikers are an anachronistic bunch. Yet here were well more than a hundred gathered, quietly and obediently going where pointed, standing in the sun for a military-style no-punches-held briefing that was anything but brief. Thorough, checklisted and reiterated yes. Brief, no.

Our instructions:
  • Our Purpose: Show respect.
  • Be safe.
  • Cell phones off.
  • All motors to start at one time.
  • Follow the Ride Captains in maroon.
  • No revving throttles.
  • Be flexible .. the order of service often changes.
  • Salute or stand with hand over heart when the casket is being moved into the church and into the hearse.
  • Flag Line: Large American flags were spaced around the church. At least one Patriot Guard Rider was to stand at each flag. Just stand. Don't talk. Don't fidget. No smoking. No drinking. Show respect. Start a half hour before service start is scheduled, until the service begins.
  • Motorcade Escort: The County Sheriff's vehicle will lead. Patriot Guard Riders will fall in behind the lead vehicles, and the hearse will follow. Two tailgunners will bring up the rear.
  • Ride in staggered double formation.
  • Be flexible.
  • Show respect.
  • Be safe.
Dismissed, we moved to a flag and stood the flag line. Thirty minutes in the Texas sun. A man dressed like a funeral director asked us to go in and sign the guest book, at the family's request. A long double line snaked to the guest books. The air conditioning felt so good. We wrote our names, added PGR and returned to our stations. People asked if they could take our pictures. People shook our hands and thanked us for coming. The sweat rolling down my cheeks masked the tears I couldn't hold back. I am blessed. My son came home .. all three times.

How could we do less?

Thunder began rumbling. A few flashes of lightining caused heads to rotate.

Still, people stood, quietly talking, or just standing. A few showed signs expressing love and patriotism.

A hush fell over the crowd. I've read that phrase so many times. Now I've felt it.

Backs straightened. Hands removed hats. Salutes were given. Hands covered hearts. All eyes faced the same direction. The casket made it slow journey from church to hearse.

The sheriff's vehicle began to move.

Ride Captains circled their hands and 175 motorcycles rumbled into life. The Ride Captain gave a few directions to latecomers, weaving their iron horses into the line.

Suddenly, the hearse cut the line.

We were flexible. Patriot Guard Riders in front and Patriot Guard Riders in back. Easy.

Except the lump in my throat, pride in my heart and tears in my eyes made it hard to see.

But I could see. I could see hundreds of people standing in the Texas heat to show respect to a hero who had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, to a family whose son gave the ultimate sacrifice.

They lined the street as motorcycles filled the street.

They waved flags, or stood quietly with hand over heart.

Shopkeepers stepped outside and placed closed signs on their doors.

Families got out of cars and stood outside.

The rain started as the motorcade turned the corner. A few, slow sprinkles to show us God cries, too.

All along the 6.5 mile route to the cemetery, people stood. A small boy waved a flag from a pedestal in his driveway.

The storm hit. People stayed where they were, ignoring the rain, standing their ground. This is America. We honor our heroes. One small group stood together by a building. A young boy cried loudly in the rain, not understanding why his mother didn't protect him from the wet. Not understanding what he witnessed.

There were hundreds of witnessess that day. Cars lined the highway. Few failed to stop. Most of them were empty, their passengers standing at attention outside, acknowledging, Remembering. Respecting.

At the cemetery, the Patriot Guard Riders were directed into a street loop. We parked four abreast and walked slowly, silently to encircle the service. Showing respect. The rain stopped. Guns barked: the 21-gun salute. The Naval personnel left the service area in measured steps, Naval Whites gleaming. As the service continued, the rain came again, strong, heavy drops that became a torrent. Mud splashed. Just before the end of the service, the rain ceased for a time.

We slipped away, to furl our five flags, hoping to have them put away so other bikers wouldn't be delayed.

Not that any would have complained.

As we loaded the last flag and pulled out our rain gear, the others returned. Hands were shaken, nods given, and we departed one by one, going our separate ways, but united by a purpose.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Iris Johansen books

In the last few months I've been picking up books in the Eve Duncan forensic series by Iris Johansen. Unfortunately, I haven't read them in order .. And I've listened to a lot of them as well. They're compelling. Not sure why. I certainly have other, deeper, more spiritually-uplifting books laying around that I should be tackling. And I seriously doubt if I would like any of the main characters, should I meet them in person, if they were real.

what is it that pulls us into particular stories? Do I prefer series detective/mystery/suspense/thrillers because I am more comfortable with the familiar?

I am very, very glad that Ms. Johansen has moved to the suspense genre .. I grabbed one of her earlier audio books off the shelf at Half Price Books .. Apparently she used to write bodice-ripper romances .. Phooey! .. Not my kind of thing atall, atall .. I found myself driving down the road grumbling at the CD player .. Thankfully, HPB bought the silly thing back (but not before I finished it!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elevator Adventures

Not all of my adventures occur in books. Here's a slightly edited version of the email I sent my son yesterday. Monday morning was, well, Monday morning.

About the time I got to sleep really good the power came back on. Any idea how many *#%!@ things we have in that house that beep very loudly when the power comes back on? I got up, turned lights and junk off and went back to bed. Seems like a noisy house once you've been exposed to everything off for a while! .. finally got back to sleep.

Headed to work, still storming. No problems there, just took a long time. Had a larger-than-usual Diet Dr. Pepper because I'd bought one at a convenience store since I was out at house. Drank all my water, too. Got to work, needing the little cowgirl's room. Parking Garage elevator to lobby .. ah, I'll wait till I get up on 9 to visit the little room. Unusually(because I was later than usual) there were several people in the elevator car with me. Stop at 2, 4 and 7. Oops. Doors don't open at 7. I'm not scared, I just need to pee! .. I REALLY need to pee!
I hit the alarm, make the call, text my boss. The guy who wanted out at 7 tries to pry the doors .. no luck. The lady on the elevator emergency phone says hold down the "Door Open" button a while, sometimes that works. I try that .. no luck. But after another couple minutes the guy tries the doors again. (I have not mentioned my need to pee). .. Hallelujah, the doors work.
I take two stories of stairs before I get to go .. so fun!
And how was your day yesterday?