From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Navajo Code Talkers Honored at Camp Pendleton

Monday, September 21, 2015

More of Those Beautiful Horses in the Yellow Field of Flowers

Beautiful Portrait of My Father by Judy Green

Judy Green is a friend of mine from childhood, and she lives in Sweetwater, Texas, where I was born and lived most of my life.

She made this picture of my father with an IPhone after asking him if she could, and could send it to me in Germany.  I cried and cried...  He is now 86 years old.

That Is Where My Brother Lives


I have a beautiful new friend.  My sweet friend Tracy had told me so much of her, and how she had helped her in every way she could as Tracy went through very difficult times.  So when Tracy told me she had fallen very ill, and needed prayer, the Lord God so easily filled my heart with great love for her.  I felt like I had known her for ten years or more in a deep friendship.  God does that among his people, we will after all spend eternity together, and there will be none among the family of God who is not known and loved by all.

So I began writing emails of encouragement and prayer to Jennifer.  She was at first too ill to respond, spending days in the haze of powerful pain killers after extensive surgery.  She had advised Tracy that this would be the case, and not to worry if she did not hear from her for awhile.  On the day of her surgery I woke in the night with her on my mind.  I knew it was God calling me to prayer for her.  God's power is released by our prayers.  He wants us to make supplication in order that we might understand that His response is one of love toward us.

Not long ago I received my first correspondence from Jennifer.  The blessing was mine, she is truly a gifted writer, even in writing a thank you letter to a stranger who God had tapped to pray for her.  I find her correspondence so refreshing, and delightful with great insight about life.  As I said, she has known great tragedy in her life, and this morning she wrote a "letter," (somehow I cannot think of her words as email,) and toward the end of it she shared a story about two of her children, both no longer living in this world.  It touched me so that I asked if I might share it.  She gave her consent.

Jennifer lost an infant baby boy to SIDS when he was very young, the following is the story she told me of how she explained his passing to his older brother.  At first I was only going to share the part of her "letter" to me which told the story of her young son, but as I highlighted the text, my mouse just covered more and more of her words as I realized the comfort and hope they might hold for others who are experiencing hardship in life.  I am usually very selfish with such words of beauty and understanding, keeping my riches for myself, but these words...  There is such power in these words...

The words that follow are her own...

Dear Debra,

Hoping my message finds you well and happy!

As I had mentioned, I had the follow-up meeting with the surgeon.  The news is a little less good than I had hoped for but I am determined to get through it!  And how could I not, when I have kindness, prayers, good thoughts and wishes coming to me - totally unexpected no less.

According to the doctor, based on the pathology reports, the Grade level has been (re-)determined as Grade 3 (not Grade 1), indicating a more aggressive form of cancer. Evidently, it had already moved into the muscle layers surrounding the uterus and into some lymph nodes. The doctor also made me aware that they had removed 38 lymph nodes.    The good news is that, at this point they do not suggest chemo therapy, but radiation therapy which is to start on September 29.  Prior to that date (9/24), I will have a full body CT scan to ensure that no other growths are apparent or developing.  The doctors seem to be of the impression that I have a hereditary form of cancer - they refer to it as "lynch syndrome". Perhaps with your medical experience, you had heard of it?  The university research center offers DNA testing, considering circumstances (and fear driven)  I decided to take part.

As you can imagine, my emotions run from high to low and although I tend to be optimistic, there are moments of sheer cold fear and all the things I tell myself about life, death and acceptance of all, I do struggle. I read and reread your messages as they remind me again and again to pray and that I am cared about and being prayed for.   Meanwhile I keep trying to work on my "bucket list" :-)

One thing that is quite at the top of my list is, that I cross the country (US) at least one more time.. ..Back when, when the world got a little too crazy, I used to put my dogs, their food and water in the back of my car, add on the top carrier with some clothes for myself and drive across country in whatever direction I felt like. What a wonderful feeling!

It reminds me of a little story in my life which I would like to share with you. Many years ago, when my second son (Patrick) passed away of SIDS, I tried to explain what happened to my oldest son (Jerry, the one who died this year). He was only 3 1/2 years old the time. I told Jerry that Patrick had gone to be with God. About a year or so later, during a move 'cross country, we stopped at the Grand Canyon. As we looked out, over the rim into the canyon, I happened to say "that is truly God's country" - to which Jerry said "oh, that's where my little brother Patrick is....!".

I just know that you understand.

Thank you once more for your caring messages, the incredible kindness you extend to me and - your prayers!


              What sweet privilege is mine in this friendship... and yes Jennifer, I do understand...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There Are Really Only Two Effective Solutions

My upbringing was a blessing which I now realize so many never have the privilege and favor from God of experiencing.  No one could ask for more honorable, loving, and strong parents than I have known.  They overcame lack of formal education, childhoods of poverty and want brought on by The Great Depression, and they knew what it was to work as a child at very adult labors.  They have gone to bed hungry and cold, but never have I ever had one such experience.  Their history of the generosity of their adult lives will never be fully known by anyone, because they have given so much,
to so many, so quietly.  After my father retired at age 62, he never really stopped working.  He would do electrical, heating and air-conditioning "service calls" for a selected clientele, which he called, "old widow women," disadvantaged families, especially those with small or sick children, for our church, and for the disabled, always at a very minimal charge, and many times he just donated the work and the materials used.   Often these "customers" were the widows of World War I or II Veterans.  His own mother was the widow of a WWI Veteran, who eventually drew his last breath under the burden of the exposure he had undergone to mustard gas in the battlefields of France.  He had never fully recovered, and suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease for the rest of his life.  

It is important for me to mention at this point "The Burn Piles" of Afghanistan, and our many Veterans and Service Members who will suffer until their own deaths, the effects of "The Burn Piles."  One of my strongest held convictions is that every American owes a debt which can never fully be paid to the Service Men and Women of this country, and their families, who have stood in the gap for us all.  They never make the political decisions which send them away from their families to conduct war on behalf of the United States, but they go where they are sent, and they do what they are commanded, and they pay the price for the protection of our liberty.  Never should the benefits and promises made to those who serve be compromised, reduced, withdrawn, denied, or held prisoner by bureaucratic paperwork designed to deny the cost of benefits due, as long as possible, from those who have honorably served.  With a heavy heart, I must report personal experience and observation on a mass scale of just that disgrace being perpetrated against those to whom we all owe so much.  I will continue to stress that fact in every place where my voice has access, upon every opportunity I have to do so.  Further, I make a daily commitment to create opportunities, and I demand daily to communicate to as many people, authorities, politicians, and news media outlets, the facts and evidence of such betrayal of our Veterans and Service Members as I have personal knowledge of.

Such a priceless heritage and privilege is found in the liberty afforded every citizen in this country. Personal potential can be realized in the fertile soil of the precious life giving nourishment of true liberty.  There is always discontent in our country in one area or the other, or in many areas, and the expression of that discontent, and the call for change is always protected by our laws and constitution, even when dishonesty and dishonest people attempt to prevail against it. Even though justice is never perfect in America, it is continually sought and striven for.

The quality of the personal liberty of the citizens of our country is exceeded no where else in the world, nor has it in history ever been exceeded by any other government.  My birthright, and by that I mean the blessing of the geographical location of my birth being within the United States, is not something which I earned, deserved, or paid for.  I never had to go through any process or paperwork, study anything, prove myself, or undergo deep personal investigation... neither, I might add, did Mr. Donald Trump.  I have paid however, my own very personal price for the protection of liberty in our country.  Though it is not as much as so many family members of those who serve in our military, and comes so short of what Service Members themselves have given, it is one of the things I am most proud of accomplishing under significant duress and personal challenge.  I am so grateful for my own experience in sacrifice, because of the realization it has brought to me of the true price of liberty and its' protection.  The experience has afforded me a much more accurate knowledge of the depth of sacrifice those who should be our most honored, too often must bear.

Being from a family of proud military service, with much personal experience in what the exact cost of the liberty afforded to the citizens of our country entails, I certainly do not wish the security of our borders, against threats of any nature, to be compromised by any act or failure to act.  However, there is a growing sea of humanity, "longing to be free."  They are doing so because the lands of their birth are places where tyranny reigns and rules and consequences for even calling for personal liberty are met with a cruelty incomprehensible to the good people of our world who know the privilege and blessing of freedom and liberty.  Many of us would really rather turn a blind eye to this knowledge, which after all, is not presently clearly and overtly threatening their own liberty in a tangible, daily manner.  A large portion of the world's inhabitants who live in the priceless inheritance of true personal liberty, have never given a thing which could be noted as a personal sacrifice.  Many are arrogant and feel a great sense of entitlement to their inheritance, and of no obligation to the rest of the "have nots" of our world.  The failure of those who were not born in the United States, or some other country where freedom has been bought and paid for by the blood and sacrifice of their patriots, is viewed by these arrogant people born in entitlement, to be their own hard luck.

The problem with their stance is that the world is a smaller and smaller place every day.  The inhabitants of planet earth are now more "connected" than ever before.  You and I know more about the daily lives of people living in China, and any other country of the world, than has ever been "knowable" before, and they know more about our lives as well.  A swelling sea of people living in unthinkable oppression, now has access to the information which allows them to know what they are missing in their own countries of birth, as well as what the blessings are of those born in the lands of the free.

Many people argue that those living without personal liberty should shed their own blood, and purchase the liberty they desire for themselves in their countries of birth.  That is never so easily done as it sounds in rhetoric.  Frequently in times in history personal liberty has been obtained by the immigration of the oppressed to a land "of opportunity."  Unless you are Native American, that is how your own personal liberty first became the source of the rich inheritance you now possess, and by personal obligation, stand guardian of.  That is the reason why politics, which is so very distasteful for most Americans, must be the bitter pill that we all partake of with fierce diligence.  It is so much easier to throw up our hands in despair, to bemoan the state of affairs, or worse yet, ignore it.  That is why often we are all tempted to ignore our rights to elect our country's leadership.  Perhaps we should consider revoking the citizenship of every person of voting age in the country who fails to perform this civic duty... That might wake some of those almost 60 percent of our citizens, who for one reason or another, fail to vote in our country's elections. The surest threat to our inheritance is apathy.

As those of us who live in countries where liberty is embraced are coming to understand more fully, the activities of criminals and tyrants will eventually affect those of us living in liberty.  This happens because they are determined, and willing to sacrifice themselves, and all others who oppose them, or in any way stand between them and their goals.  The oppressed have an even clearer understanding of these facts and for them, fleeing to the lands of the free is not optional, it is imperative, and a matter of living or dying.  

Now presents itself a true problem to the people who live in the lands of the free.  I see it as a two option problem, either we must make provision for those who are coming by the hundreds of thousands, or... criminals and tyrants must be brought down, and countries must be occupied until effective governments can be established in those countries. Only this action has hope of stemming the flood of humanity longing to be free.  Either of these two options bears great costs, and sobering long term obligations.