Giving Thanks For Military

Today is Veteran’s Day.

I am thankful for the men and women who have served our country. In my own family, my father, both grandfathers, all of my uncles, my father-in-law, and a brother-in-law have served.

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My father, Henry E. Vogel, WWII

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My grandfather, Henry L. Vogel, WWI

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My grandfather, William M. Gladden, WWI

America is the country we have today because of their sacrifices.

Below is an essay I wrote about my father’s war injuries. It was published a few years ago in volume 7 of The Petigru Review.

Blessed Legs

I thought all men’s legs looked like that—harsh crevices outlining the muscles, puckering around the edges. Long gashes ran down his thighs, the shape of a huge eye to my youthful imagination.

I stared at them, not because they were unusual, but because they were at eye level.

Dad stood at the bathroom sink every morning, the scrape, scrape of his razor rasping away his morning beard growth. Water trickled in the sink, swishing when he rinsed.

I sat on the floor or on the cool edge of the tub and watched the foamy white cream disappear behind each stroke.

His legs were not my focus, but children see what’s at eye level, soaking it in. I saw Dad’s legs.

Confirming my belief that Dad’s legs were normal was the balance between each limb. The symmetry of the scars gave them permanence.

I accepted those legs as sculpted and muscular. Not the ravaged remains of skin grafts after a bomb in France blew up beside a young soldier. War warranted a brief mention in my childhood years, the reason behind Dad’s missing finger. I imagined his finger shot off while he peered over the edge of a dirt embankment. I was much older before I learned the truth. That my father, six months into his stint in the war, experienced the unfortunate luck of escorting prisoners when a bomb exploded next to him. I can still see the look of wonder on his face when he told me that those same German prisoners carried him to safety after the explosion.

Dad was nineteen. He spent the rest of his life missing a finger, living with tinnitus, carrying shrapnel around in his shoulders, and standing on the most beautiful legs I ever knew a man to have.

Later, when I noticed other men’s legs, I knew the difference. I realized the beauty of the surgeon’s renderings saved my father’s life, grafting skin where he needed it more.

To me his legs represented normal, and with my growing awareness of their true meaning, beautiful. I don’t know if Dad ever realized how I saw his legs, but the daughter in me hopes that somehow he felt my innocent acceptance as a blessing.

 

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Sharing the Light of Christ

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I spend a good bit of time “seeking” before I write my posts. I let ideas stew in my mind while I ponder, “What story of faith should I share?”  It’s not always an outright prayer, but, all the same, I’m asking for His guidance as I prepare.

Sometimes the answer is obvious.

Sometimes, current events send me in a different direction.

Today, as I sat down and began to form this post, a knock came at the door. I peered through the window. Two ladies dressed for church smiled back at me.   Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly visit our neighborhood, so I wasn’t surprised to see them. I spoke with them for a few moments and explained that I was in the midst of writing my post for my faith-based blog.

Why mention this?

I am willing to change direction if I feel the Spirit prodding me to do so. This unexpected visit prompted me to  change topics and write about reaching out to others.

We have many ways to reach people and share our faith. My blog is one of the ways I do this. I, also, have my speaking ministry. This is how I reach out to people.

That doesn’t mean I don’t seek one-on-one opportunities. I do, but my approach is different. I’m not the kind of person who knocks on a stranger’s door to preach the Word to them.

Some people respond to that person who shows up at the door.  Some people find and follow my blog because of the topics I’ve discussed. Some people hear me speak because they happen to be wherever I am speaking at the time.

What is my point?

Jesus instructed us to shine His light no matter where we are.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

We don’t have to step far out of our comfort zone to shine His light. He might ask that of you, but He gave each of us gifts that allow us to evangelize and share. For some of you, your actions shine His light. For others, it’s your words. In all cases, He is there to help us.  How does He guide you to shine His light?

So,  next week’s post will be what I planned to write about today…unless God tells me otherwise.

For now, shine  God’s love and mercy over all who cross your path.

Weathering the Storm: Facing Crises in Life

approaching stormI sunburn easily, so a trip to the beach requires an umbrella to protect me from the sun. A few years ago, while vacationing in Florida, we rented an umbrella and two chairs from the lifeguard.  During lunch, a storm blew in. As we ate our lunch on our screen porch, we observed the lifeguard closing all of the umbrellas and thought nothing of it. Then, he started packing up all of the chairs and umbrellas.  Before we knew it, the protection we’d rented was gone with the lifeguard, yet the storm lasted less than an hour.

Frustrated, we confronted the lifeguard the next day. He explained that his boss checked the weather, determined it would rain all day, and told him to pack up. We felt scammed and so did several other families experiencing the same problem.

Sure enough, the next day, a storm blew in around lunch time. We stayed in our chairs and watched the lifeguard begin to pack up. He glared at us and the other two families choosing to weather the storm in order to keep their umbrellas in place.  An hour later, the storm cleared and our lifeguard remained until the three families packed up their belongings for the day. Throughout the week, we continued to leave at least one of us to weather the storm in order to keep the umbrellas we paid for available once the rain cleared.

Over the years, I’ve experienced many of life’s storms, and I’ve observed others doing the same.  What strikes me the most about this is each person’s approach to a storm. There are those who will weather it, face the storm head on, and emerge victorious on the other side.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

These people recognize that strength comes from perseverance, that they are not alone in their struggles. Christ gives them the ability and strength to weather their trials.

Then, I’ve witnessed an alarming number of people who stick their heads in the sand, unwilling to face the future.  This never seems to work.  It only opens the door to more problems, but time and again, I see them running from the storm only to be swept away.

The psalmist reminds us of a significant point that I’ve tried to live by in any circumstance:

Today is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!  Psalm 118:24

No matter what comes, no matter what happens, we have a promise:  each and every day comes from the Lord.  Whatever is coming, He is in control and we must stand up and face it with Him in the lead.

What storms have you weathered?  How did you survive?