Thursday, July 28, 2022

Free Indeed

 


Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. ~John 8:36

Give me liberty, or give me death. ~Patrick Henry, 1736 - 1799


In the late 1700s, in the fortuitous country that would become the United States of America, the ideals and values of a nation truly free because of God's grace, and His unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, would become, miraculously, realized.  But not without our Founding Fathers being aware of, yet willing to sacrifice fortunes and ranks, lives and livelihoods, to see it happen.

Oppression under the Crown of England was tolerated by the colonies until it no longer served them or their interests - think taxation without representation and viewing American colonists as the great unwashed.  With so many of our unique freedoms taken for granted in today's society, it's easy to forget that our Founding Fathers were willing to pay whatever price was necessary to secure these freedoms for posterity.  Their wisdom was, inarguably, God-inspired.  For it is Christian values that rule the precepts both in our Constitution and in the most daring document in American history - The Declaration of Independence.

When I was feeling a bit despondent this last July 4th, because so many voices in the media were hell-bent on disparaging and delegitimatizing our Founding Fathers, I thankfully discovered this marvelous gem of a book, The 56 by Douglas MacKinnon.  Immediately, the information contained within boosted my spirits, and reminded me why we should, to this day, be proud of our conception as a nation, founded on our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

MacKinnon does an outstanding job of setting the stage for what is happening in the colonies when it's decided to convene a Constitutional convention as a first step in declaring from England.  He then goes on to detail the lives of all 56 men who courageously signed the Declaration.  An overwhelming majority of these delegates had substantial wealth, and stood to lose everything to the Crown for their traitorous actions.  Yet, to a man, each one was more than willing to take that risk.

I found myself both inspired and grateful as I read the brief biographies of each of our distinguished signers.  MacKinnon successfully fleshes out personalities, and makes readers feel as if they are in the same room with these giants of history.  Yes, The 56 is that good!

In light of this, I'm giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner who comments here.  Your name will be placed in a "hat," and I'll have Danny draw the name of the winner two weeks from now, and I'll announce that winner on the blog.

And if you don't win?  I do hope you will order this gem of a book for yourself, and then pass it along to friends and neighbors, or donate to your church library for the edification of others.

As President Reagan warned us decades ago:  "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."

May we resolve to keep the lights of liberty shining!

Amen! 



About the author:

Douglas MacKinnon served as a writer in both the Reagan and Bush administrations.  He later joined the Pentagon where he had top secret government clearance.  His other books include Vengeance is Mine, and a memoir, Rolling Pennies in the Dark, all available on Amazon.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Never Alone

 


Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence? ~Psalm 139:7


As I've mentioned on the blog here and there, I'm not fully recovered from my bout with pneumonia last January.  I've come to accept the fact that it's simply going to take more time, and I have to be patient with myself and with the pace my body is taking.  Do I wish this process was faster?  Of course!  But I've learned, too, that if anything good is going to happen, it will be in God's time, and God's alone.

I have a visit with my doctor last Wednesday to ask lots of questions and get his take on my progress thus far.  One area of concern for me, as it has seemingly come on quickly and unexpectedly, is hair loss.  Yes, my hair has always been on the fine side, but not to the point where there are notable "partings" where there should be none.  Luckily, the hair growth supplement I've been taking for about a month and a half gets a thumbs up from Dr. S., who advises me to continue that regimen (the brand is Hairprin).  He doesn't think it's a result of any medication I was prescribed during my convalescence, and it does appear to be working.  Keep your fingers crossed!

The battery of blood test Dr. S. orders come back with little to no complications.  It seems I'm getting adequate nutrition in my system, and though my hips still ache, no red flag indicating arthritis pops up.  For the persistent discomfort and limited mobility, Dr. S. orders some physical therapy, which I begin next Monday.  Yes, I have been walking on the treadmill, but I know I need something more targeted toward the problem.  Suffice it to say, in the meantime, I'm thankful for handicap ramps!

Dr. S. also prescribes a visit to the imaging department to have a bone scan done.  It's been years since my last assessment.  I have been supplementing my diet with calcium and vitamin D, so I'm hoping for the best.

Some truly wonderful news, though, is the status of my blood pressure.  When I'm released from the hospital, my feet go through fits of swelling; so badly at times, that I can't even get my shoes on!  So, Dr. S. takes me off amlodipine, which is known to contribute to swelling, and switches me to a betablocker called Carvedilol.  The only side effect to this drug is occasional sleepiness.  It turns out, this is the culprit in my almost daily need for short naps.  Dr. S. tells me not to worry about it, and just enjoy the rest time.  Okay, I'll take it!  Especially, since my blood pressure reads at the most perfect score I've seen in years:  110/70!!!  Think quitting smoking has something to do with that?

Yet, through all of these changes, discoveries and adjustments, I've never felt alone in my struggles.  I've had the distinct conviction, day in and day out, of God's abiding presence right beside me, ready to give comfort, relieve worry, and calm my heart and mind.  There is no place I can go in this world where He cannot or will not be found.

So no matter what you're facing today, friends, know that you are loved and treasured by our Father in heaven.

You are never, ever alone.

Amen!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Living Waters

 


Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." ~John 4:10


Relief for aching feet

Tested by mountain

Terrain, determined to

Reach the summit

Achieve the goal set

In lowlands, where

Achieving the heights

Are only but dreams

Yet dreams with hope

Will prevail because

The power of living water

Courses through the veins

Conveying strength, resolve

To accept the blessing

A willing heart receives

When seeking God's promise

That living waters prevail.


Amen!




Monday, July 18, 2022

On Top of the World

 


I will lift my eyes to the hills -

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth. ~Psalm 121:1-2


When anyone mentions Clingman's Dome, the above image is usually what comes to mind.  Have I been up there?  Yes, many moons ago when I was 10 and our family vacationed in the Great Smoky Mountains.  It's certainly worth the long and arduous trek up the concrete path at least once in a lifetime to view a mountain panorama bar none.

But that's not the walk Danny has planned today with Virginia.  There is an offshoot trail that few people know about and fewer travel.  It actually intersects the famous Appalachian Trail!  I've trekked this with Danny before; it is marvelous, but I know from experience this isn't a trail I can navigate now.  My legs are still not being the most cooperative I'd hoped they would be at this stage in my long road to recovery after the pneumonia incident.  But I am so excited for Virginia, knowing how much she will enjoy the wonderful views!

So, with Danny carrying their lunches, off they go on a new adventure; I stay back with the car and my own lunch.  The parking lot is jammed, and we are so fortunate to find a parking space at all, so while Danny and Virginia go a-wandering, I spend the time reading and people-watching.

Thankfully, my two hikers return with plenty of photos to share.
















Danny and Virginia are so blessed to have such gorgeous weather for hiking on Clingman's Dome.  I know Virginia will treasure these memories all her life.

Amen!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

We're On Our Way!

 


Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. ~Proverbs 16:13


Danny and I have traveled for years to different Watershed cabins located in the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina.  We know the route like the backs of our hands, and we have special places we like to stop along the way.

Usually, our lunch spot is at Chick-fil-A in Ellijay, Georgia.  But when Virginia a Longhorn in the vicinity, she asks if we can eat there instead.  The reason?  She wants to try their lava cake she's heard so much about.  So, after she finishes her lunch, Papa orders one for her, not realizing the sheer size of it!





At least, the waitress brings three spoons, but even with all of us taking bites, it's impossible to conquer, much like our ice cream in downtown Kennesaw.  When did establishments start over-sizing desserts?

Our next pitstop is a beautiful and serene rest area in Andrews, North Carolina.  We stopped there with Virginia on her first trip with us to the cabin, Nantahala Gorgeous.



And here we are in June of this year!  You can tell by the photos that it's the same season of our initial visit.  Isn't it a serene and lovely place?





Unlike our first trip with Virginia, we don't stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center to watch the rafters; it's simply way too crowded!  We opt to just keep going to our destination - Big Sky Lodge.



Ironically, this is the cabin we originally stayed in when Danny's heart rate dropped so low, we ended up at the Bryson City hospital and had to be transported by ambulance to Asheville; Danny needed emergency surgery to install a life-saving pacemaker!  As you can imagine, I am less than thrilled to be returning to the "scene of the crime," but this was the only cabin available during the time we'd planned for this trip.  You can read all about those harrowing adventures here.  

Fortunately for us, this visit is filled with happy memories and breathtaking views.






Tomorrow, we plan to pack our lunches and head out to Clingman's Dome, the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains!  Won't you tag along with us?

Amen!

Once again, my link isn't working.  Is anyone else having this issue?  If you go into my archives, click on April 2017.  The blog is entitled The Voice of the Lord.  Thanks, friends!

Monday, July 11, 2022

More Fun with Virginia

 


So, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12


It is so miserably hot here in Kennesaw when Virginia comes to visit us, but we make the most of the time we have together before heading for the mountains, where, we hope, the temperatures will be cooler.  We want each and every day to count!

One excursion I take with Virginia is to visit The Frozen Cow, an ice cream shop in town that makes its ice cream right there on the premises.  Here's a photo from the first time we take Virginia to The Frozen Cow.  She must have been in either first grade or kindergarten.


And try as she might, Virginia can barely see over the counter in order to watch the ice cream being made.


That's not a problem anymore!




What does remain a problem is how to possibly eat all the ice cream they generously serve; believe it or not, Virginia's cone is a small!!!


She manages to finish hers, but half of mine, unfortunately, ends up in the trash. :(

One afternoon, Papa takes Virginia to visit her Uncle Nicco.  She enjoys looking through his microscope.



But best of all, Virginia LOVES learning how to correctly handle and fire an airsoft pistol.  What kid wouldn't?





Virginia actually hits the targets Nicco has made!

Aside from taking trips to the grocery store with Virginia to let her, of course, pick out some favorite snacks to enjoy, we play backgammon.  Lots of backgammon!




Virginia is developing into a masterful player, and can beat me in a heartbeat.  With Papa, it's a little more difficult to seal the victory, but she certainly tries.

The night before we are scheduled to leave for the cabin, we have supper at a fairly new pizza parlor in town to avoid any kitchen muss and fuss.  It is an excellent choice!



Friday's post will find us heading up to our cabin in the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina.  I hope you'll come along for the ride!

Amen!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Blessed Be My Rock

 

 

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


Last year, one of my blog entries features the significance that rocks and rock collecting has played in granddaughter, Virginia's, young life.  You can read all about it here.

My friend, and fellow blogger, J. D. Wininger, who pens weekly reflection on his site, Around the Cross-Dubya, takes special interest of this particular post.  He has certain rocks he has held dear over the years, and with no grandchild of his own showing special interest in collecting, he asks if I think Virginia would like to have them.  Of course, I answer in the affirmative, and J. D. promptly mails these special stones to us, knowing it will be a while before Virginia can properly thank him for the gift.

When they arrive, Danny and I show them to Virginia via FaceTime, promising that she can take them home after our vacation time together in June.  As you can see in the pictures below, Virginia is having the time of her life.


 











After sorting and categorizing her new treasures, we tell Virginia it's time to write a thank you to Mr. J. D.  I must admit, I'm thinking she's not going to be enthusiastic about this task, but oh, how wrong I am!


J. D. has taken the time to identify certain favorite rocks in detail, and Virginia soaks up all those facts, and let her new "grandparent" know just how special they are to her, too, and she loves knowing where they came from.  By the time she's finished typing her thank you, it is a page long, so descriptive, detailed, and heart-felt.  My own heart is bursting with pride as I read her letter, knowing how much her words will mean to J. D.

And, I'm absolutely right on that score.  After receiving Virginia's letter, he sends me a note on my blog informing me that he is having the letter framed!  It means that much to him.  And when Virginia hears about J. D.'s plan, she is, naturally, beside herself with joy.

This experience has modeled for her the importance of generosity and gratefulness in life, and the power of a sincere thanks has to move others.

And the rocks will remind Virginia to be grateful for God's solid and immovable love for her, for all of us.  Blessed be our Rock!

Amen!

It has been brought to my attention that the links I've used above are not working.  To see the original post about Virginia's fascination with rocks, visit marthaorlando.blogspot.com/2021/rock-my-world.html
You can find J. D. at jdwininger.com

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