God Bless America

I was stunned the other day when the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium did not include Kate Smith’s God Bless America. It seems someone anonymously contacted the Yankees that the First Lady of Radio had a number of racist songs in her vast repertoire. The one that really was picked out was That’s Why Darkies Were Born. Of course it took only 88 years for that revelation to surface.

And once the Yankees folded, the Philadelphia Flyers quickly followed and the latest PC crisis roared onto social media. The Flyers, by the way, had a statue of Kate Smith erected outside their stadium after she died, but covered it when the dust up surfaced (?) and formally carted it away last week.

Smith has been dead for 33 years, but during her long life, she was perhaps one of the most recognizable faces of the mid 20th century. She was popular on stage, the radio, and television. Her booming voice was her trademark and God Bless America became an alternate national anthem, largely because of her patriotism. During World War II, she helped stir patriotic fervor and contributed to selling over $600 million of war bonds during a series of marathon broadcasts. No other show business star came near her as revenue producer of war bonds to finance the United States’ war effort. Today, that $600 million would be worth over $10 billion.

Now, I don’t condone racism … or sexism … or bullying … or any of the thousand other “isms” that currently offend someone, somewhere, at some time. Our PC sensitivity has run amok. Incidents that happened decades ago suddenly require immediate reparation.

I would be the first to admit I was sexist growing up during a period when women were just starting to find their voice and place in society. I was dismissive — until I got married and had daughters of my own. That’s when my attitude shifted to supportive. I would always tell them how important they were and how they could do anything they set their mind on.

People do change.

That’s why all this feigned offense at the actions of the past annoys me so much. I don’t care what happened 50 or 100 years ago. I don’t believe in revising history. I don’t believe in blaming all the ills of the present on the past.

It comes down to education. The women in my life showed me first hand their struggles, emotional and physical. That prompted me to change.

Pick you “ism”. Don’t tell me how bad I’ve been, how bad society has been, how generations have contributed to the now. Teach me. Show me how you are being aggrieved — without the blame. Take some personal responsibility.

And, God Bless America! I miss hearing it.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The only way we can live is if we grow. The only way we can grow is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn.

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Midweek Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

So, let’s smile a little!

Problem Solved

Last year a guy entered the Cal State marathon. The race started and immediately he was the last of the runners. It was embarrassing. The guy who was in front of him, second to last, was making fun of him. He said, “Hey buddy, how does it feel to be last?” The guy replied, “You really want to know?” Then he dropped out of the race.

And now for the bonus …

Five Real-Life Dimwit Stories

AT&T fired President John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked intellectual leadership. He received a $26 million severance package. Perhaps it’s not Walter who’s lacking intelligence.

Police in Oakland, CA, spent two hours attempting to subdue a gunman who had barricaded himself inside his home. After firing 10 tear gas canisters, officers discovered the man was standing beside them in the police line, shouting, “Please come out and give yourself up.”

An Illinois man, pretending to have a gun, kidnapped a motorist and forced him to drive to two different automated teller machines, where the kidnapper proceeded to withdraw money from his own bank accounts.

A man walked into a Topeka  (KS) Kwik Stop and asked for all the money in the cash drawer. Apparently, the take was too small, so he tied up the store clerk and worked the counter himself for three hours until police showed up and grabbed him.

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words: “Give me all your money or I’ll shoot,” the man shouted, “That’s not what I said!”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Trust doesn’t mean you trust someone won’t make mistakes — it means you trust them even when they do mess up.

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What Is Writing?

I will be facilitating a second six-week class trying to demystify writing in general and taking the fear out of sharing your written words. The interactive Take the Fear Out of Writing class will begin Monday, June 3 at 1 p.m. at The Commons at Central Hall, Dover-Foxcroft, ME. It will continue weekly through July 8. Participants should bring their laptop, journal, or notebook.

During the sessions, I will address the different types of writing, including how to communicate through words, expository writing, narrative writing, persuasive writing, poetry, and creative writing. Some basic rules (and exceptions), style and grammar, spelling, context, syntax and how to create effective sentences, paragraphs, characters, plots, sub-plots, and themes will be woven into the syllabus.

At the first session last fall, I introduced a class project, challenging participants to brainstorm and research for collective and individual contributions. Depending on interest from this session’s participants, I will again guide the class to continue the story that was developed then. The combined story they created is available at https://wisdomfromafather.com/2019/02/26/writing-101/.

But most of all,  the emphasis of the class will be “fun”. Writing doesn’t have to be daunting. We write all the time. Why not make our communication more effective?

I was a reporter, editor, and publisher for over 50 years in five states, most recently as publisher and owner of the Reveille/Between the Lakes, official newspaper of Seneca County, NY. I retired part time to Dover-Foxcroft in 2015 and full time in 2017. I am currently president-elect for Kiwanis Club of Dover-Foxcroft and active with Dover-Foxcroft United Methodist Church and The Commons at Central Hall.

I’ve published a Christian fiction novella, Heaven Shining Through, and a journal-type non-fiction book, Wisdom From a Father … one father’s thoughts on life. I am currently completing a rewrite of Heaven Shining Through, converting it into a full novel. A summer launch is planned.

Contact me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com or The Commons at (207) 343-3018 or info@centralhallcommons.org for more information or to register.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Patience … is a habit of mind and heart that grows out of inner peace.

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Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Noah’s Ark

This week’s words for the week is an oldie but goodie.

Don’t miss the boat.

Remember we are all in the same boat.

Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

Build your future on high ground.

For safety’s sake, travel in pairs. It’s nice to have company too.

Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

When you’re stressed, float awhile.

Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: There are never enough I Love You’s. — Lenny Bruce

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The Empty Tomb

I don’t usually re-post, but I’ve decided for this Easter season, it would be appropriate to continue this as a tradition for the extra followers than a year ago. So, for my new-found friends, this is for you. And for my regular readers, this is a reminder.

There are two “major” celebrations on the church calendar – Christmas and Easter. One we celebrate with joy and festivity. The other we generally celebrate quietly, with a little more reserve and certainly a lot more reverence and solemnity.

The latter, of course, is Easter – actually a compilation of the days that begin on Palm Sunday and end with Christ’s resurrection, encompassing His passion and His reprehensible death along the way.

But to look at the Easter season with sadness, I feel, is missing the whole point. These few days are the foundation of our entire faith. Without the pain, suffering, death – and most important – resurrection, Jesus was just another kind-hearted man with a vision.

Certainly, the agony is worth remembering. In fact, the agony is worth feeling. But it is the resurrection we should focus on … and that should give us reason to celebrate – really celebrate.

When I was growing up – as, probably, most of us can remember – the emphasis of Lent was denial. And being just average kids, we looked forward to Sundays because we could “forget” the denials – candy, ice cream or whatever. It was a “day off.”

Then came Holy Week. The palms were nice, but again, the focus shifted immediately into the passion and for the next few days, Jesus’ suffering was drummed into our heads. Good Friday was a day of quiet, reflecting on Jesus’ death.

Somehow, that was almost the end of the message. Easter Sunday was anti-climactic. We spent so much time dwelling on the death of Jesus, His resurrection almost got lost.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Despite the commercialism that has grown, as a faith community we can sense the joy of the season. It is truly a celebration.

What about Easter? Is that same joy present? Is there any joy present?

I don’t think so.

Over the years I’ve theorized about why. Perhaps it is because there is no fixed date. Perhaps it is because we are, generally, still depressed from a long winter.

But perhaps it is also because we reduce the entire Lenten season – particularly Holy Week and Good Friday – to the suffering Jesus. As humans, we don’t like suffering … in ourselves or in others.

As a result, our minds and emotions shut down around Good Friday. It’s just too painful for us to watch this Jesus die this death. It becomes even more painful when we consider He died for us, our sins contributed to the weight of the cross, the sting of the nails, the labored breathing, the disgraceful death.

The focal point of the season should be 36 hours later … Easter, the empty tomb. We should have our eyes on that empty tomb at Easter – just as we have our eyes fixed on the crib at Christmas.

While sharing the Eucharistic meal, we should recognize the Jesus of the empty tomb. While recalling the passion of Jesus, we should be looking to that empty tomb. While reflecting on the crucifixion, we should contemplate its meaning as a necessary step from this world to the empty tomb. As we ponder the mystery of the risen Christ at Vigil, Sunrise or Easter services, we should see the mystery in light of that empty tomb.

A moved rock, nothing but a shroud, an empty tomb. That’s the foundation of our faith. Jesus’ resurrection makes it possible for us to be resurrected. And just as Jesus replaced His spot in the tomb for a place at His Father’s table, so, too, will our tomb be emptied and we will join Father, Son, Spirit and our fellow believers at that same table.

That’s cause for celebration.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t be afraid of a situation that creates total dependency on the Lord Jesus. You’ll never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.

This originally was written while I was editor at the Catholic Standard, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, and re-published in my newspaper, Reveille/Between the Lakes. I thought I would share it with this audience as well.

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Joys and Concerns

This is a special  Sunday — the day we celebrate the cornerstone of our faith, the Resurrection of Our Lord! He paid the price on Good Friday so we might have life everlasting in communion and fellowship with Him.

As we build this community prayer platform, with help from the #PrayerWarriors team, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

Of course we can’t begin our petitions without expressing the greatest joy. He Is Risen! He Is Alive! He Is With Us!

We thank You God for giving us the greatest gift, Your Son. Why? Because You so loved us!

But amid the joy, there are some sorrows facing us mortals as we battle our own demons and illnesses. They can wear us down, but we know — because of Jesus — we’re not alone. You walk along side of each and every one of us. Or as Fatima notes, the happiest moments of her life are called “answered prayers”.

Lord, Erica noted today is an on the sofa day though it’s beautiful as ever outside. She notes she has to listen to her body and physically, mentally, and financially is just drained. Still, she trusts fully in God with all her mind and heart for answers/provision.

Germaine asks for prayer for our Christian family in France.

Grandma is refusing medication and walking a thin line. If she doesn’t take this medicine she will go into a coma and possible never wake up.

MaryLee asks for prayer for someone very close who has just been hospitalized, and in the CDU ward. She is asking for big healing prayers, positive vibes, and anything else that will help her get better and out of the hospital.

Kari’s mom is fighting for her life right now. She is a mother of six and a grandma of five. She’s been battling this for almost tree years and doctors say she doesn’t have a lot of time. She is in ICU on life support and in need of a liver.

Bentley is battling a very rare cancer called neuroblastoma for the third time. He just had emergency surgery done to his spinal cord after his tumor was growing larger and larger and now Bentley’s insurance company has denied their third appeal for possible life-saving treatment recommended by his doctors because “the service is not medically necessary.” Bentley’s mom said the treatment would cost $85,000 a dose and he would need two doses. With tears in her eyes, Krystal , his mom, explained they are running out of time and options.

Andrew continues to battle pain and challenges in his struggle with cancer, while Jim and Joe are battling financial battles. They ask for people to look up with them.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week — some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We also know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Erica, the people of France {and throughout the world}, Grandma, MaryLee’s friend, Kari’s mom, Bentley and his family,  Andrew, Jim and Joe. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Never let go of your hope.



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Five Minute Friday — Next

Here we go. I’ve carved out my five minutes for this week’s Five Minute Friday exercise. Kate Motaugn (in the Community section at www.fiveminutefriday.com) supplied this week’s prompt — NEXT — and turned it over the FMF crew to expand and embellish. And, of course, we meet and greet at her place to share and network. It’s fun, fun, fun and keeps our neurons sharp.

Ready to join in yet?

Okay, here’s another take from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Don’t listen to me. Listen to Elizabeth.

“The FMF community is a welcoming, fun and caring group of writers. They have helped me stretch and grow both as a writer and a person. The challenge to write about a single word for only five minutes is an excellent exercise and God has revealed thoughts to me that I don’t think I would have come up with otherwise.”

There you go. Now to this week’s task. The timer is set. Let’s GO…

The band of 12  just had a celebratory dinner with their Leader. They broke bread, shared a cup of wine. They also didn’t understand fully what was coming next, but for this night they were together in solidarity.

Then came the morning. Their Leader was railroaded at a mock trial, beaten, tortured and ultimately killed in a most horrific way. For our band of followers, the question was, what’s next?

Their world had just crumbled. The Messiah … the Savior from Rome’s heavy hand … the Deliverer and His message was now in doubt. They were huddled together in an upper room, afraid for their lives as they pondered what was next. Should they continue this ministry and risk death like their Leader? Should they quietly go back to their homes and hope the neighborhood forgives and forgets their dalliance with this treasonous leader? What’s next?

They weren’t expecting what actually happened next. They weren’t expecting an empty tomb. In fact, some … STOP

actually wondered what happened to His body. They saw Him tortured. They saw Him die. They saw Him entombed. They thought His body may have been desecrated further by the Romans at the bequest of the Pharisees or somehow stolen.

What happened next was the Resurrection! The empty tomb! The fulfillment of Jesus’ life! What happened next was the establishment of a portal back into the heavenly fold we were designed for.

What happens next for you and me? Do we chalk up the Easter season — the Easter miracle — as a poignant story for the moment and go back to our day-to-day lives Monday morning? Or do we see the truths Jesus taught while He walked on this earth? Do we gather them in our hearts and minds? Do we translate those words into actions — sharing His life through our actions?

What’s next?

Well, Jesus told them on the mountain in Galilee and by extension us what’s next. I will be you always. [Matthew 28:20]

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. — Maya Angelou

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