Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unlocking the Gates of Heaven

“The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective.

This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God.

The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote,

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:2, 4-5).

It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.”- Francis Frangipane

Monday, November 11, 2013

God Bless Our Veterans

“Sitting in front of my fireplace, basking in it's warm glow gives me time to reflect upon the sacrifices that it has taken for me to enjoy the security of a good home, in a safe environment. I can hear the soft whisper of the snow as it caresses my window and covers the ground outside in a scintillating display of sparkling lights under the full moon. How many times have our service men and women watched this same scene from a foxhole, or camped in some remote part of the world. Thankful for the silence of that moment, knowing it won’t last long. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He/she dresses in fatigues and patrols the world restlessly, ensuring that we can have this peaceful night. Every day they give us the gift of this lifestyle that we enjoy, and every night they watch over us. They are warriors, angels, guardians, friends, brothers, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, forming a family that stretches back to the beginning of the country. So tonight when you go to bed say a prayer that God watch over those who watch over us, and thank them for their sacrifices, on and off the battlefield. Pray that they have a peaceful night, and will be home soon with their families who also share their burden. Without them we would not have this moment.” - Neil Leckman

Monday, November 4, 2013

Autumn Glory and Autumn Stories

Autumn is filled with nostalgia for me. No season of the year is more likely to turn my attention back towards days gone by. Something in the vivid maple colors, the pumpkins on the neighbor's porch, or just seeing my breath as I step out the door reminds me that something is ending, nature's cycle is almost over, another year is nearly gone.

So many autumn memories surround me like leaves swirling around my feet.

I remember the October view through our front window of Laurel Oak Cemetery up on the hill, bright with orange and yellow and red beyond any artist's imagination.

I remember football games in the vacant lot next door to our house, usually with my older brothers and lots of the neighborhood kids. Nothing was more fun than that. A sandlot Super Bowl.

I remember each year when my little lawn mowing business would become my little leaf raking business, soon to be followed by my door to door Christmas card business. Got to make a living, you know.

I remember the hayrides out on Gray's farm or Bullock's ranch. I remember nestling in the straw, and awkwardly trying to sneak a kiss to my sweetheart, Carol . . . or Karen . . . or Joyce.

I remember the smoky taste of roasted hot dogs and gooey s'mores around a bonfire on those cool, crisp evenings.

I remember the very special Saturday when some kind friend gave my dad four tickets to a Mizzou football game. This time Dad decided to take his three youngest sons with him, not his normal approach. Why do I remember every detail of that day? It was a cold, gray afternoon, but we didn't care. It was wonderful. And yes, I remember the score, 20-17, Missouri defeated Colorado. Hard to believe that one day could be such a gift.

I remember the satisfaction of finally mowing down Mom's smelly marigolds along both sides of our long driveway, vindication for all the summer weeds and wasps.

And, of course, I remember what always seemed to be the unofficial end of Autumn, piling into our station wagon, heading to KC for our double-barreled Thanksgiving feasts with our grandparents, the Barnes at noon and the Hills for dinner. I was more stuffed than the turkey.

Autumn glory and autumn stories linger still. In more recent years I have been blessed to enjoy many more happy memories as a husband and a father. But for today, I'm just a kid, kicking through the leaves and none too anxious to grow up, let alone grow old.

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow. . .

Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.