Christian

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As we head into Independence Day 2020, many of us have begun to realize that this year, it’s different. Everything is different. The year, Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me and so many others. For the first time in our nations history, almost everything was shut down. People were quarantined…leaving only the essential workers going to work, and the rest of us staying home, except for food, medicine, and doctor visits. Covid 19 had changed everything.

Spring Break for the schools brought the quarantine, and even if we had no children in school, we felt that change deeply. Everything just…stopped. Restaurants were closed, movies were out, bowling leagues ended early, as did all sports. Once the warmer weather hit, it felt like summer, but it was only May. This would prove to be the longest summer ever…I’m not complaining, mind you. Summer is my favorite time of year. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been, if the quarantine had happened in the Winter, when I wouldn’t have been able to get outside and walk on the trail near my home…especially since I am not into winter sports, and those places would have been closed anyway.

Finally after more than three months of quarantine, the states were allowed to begin reopening. Still, we did not know what the summer would look like. Sports were up in the air, contemplating a shortened season, or as in the case of some, cancelling the 2020 season altogether. Graduations, funerals, birthday gatherings, and holidays were uncertain. Finally, as campgrounds and hotels began to reopen, it looked like summer might be salvaged. Still, several fairs and some 4th of July fireworks thought about, or did cancel. My husband, Bob and I usually go to the Black Hills over the 4th of July, to do some hiking, so this was a concern to us. Finally, word came down that the fireworks display we loved would indeed be held, and that after a 9 year span without fireworks at Mount Rushmore, that display would also take place this year. We were so happy, and booked our motel right away.

As we prepare to watch the fireworks on Independence Day 2020, it comes to mind that Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning. For a time, we lost our independence, and now we have it back. The feeling reminds me of how the early settlers felt, when England finally gave up and we had won our independence from them. Yes, we still have a ways to go before we will have our country back to normal. During the lock-down, some bad things happened and some people are in an outraged state, but I believe that we will be able to get back to normal through the love of God being shown in our nation. There are those who want to change the root of our nation, but they will not succeed. We are and always will be “One Nation, Under God” and we will have victory over the anarchists. Today, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the United States of America. It is with a whole new meaning…Freedom Again!! Happy Independence Day everyone, God bless you all, and God bless America!!

My great grand nephew, Jaxx Harman is the youngest on my grand nephew Jake Harman and his wife Melanie’s three children. Jaxx is their only son, and having two older sisters can be awesome, or it can be a fight. Thankfully for Jaxx, he has great sisters. While there are those minor disagreements that all siblings have, they are pretty great to have around. For most of his life, his older sisters have been showing him the ropes of life, but Jaxx is getting to be a big boy now, and his own attitude is starting to present itself into the family picture. A boy with two older sisters has to get a handle on things before he gets too old, or they girls will push him around.

Jaxx can’t have that. At the grown up age of three, he has to start asserting himself…or at least that’s what he has decided. Jaxx is all boy, and like many boys, he loves to wrestle, fight, and in general, be ornery. According to his mom is a little monkey. I can totally picture that too. From jumping on the bed…when Mommy isn’t looking, to climbing on every thing he can think of. It’s every “boy-mom’s” stressor. Still, when Jaxx looks at his mommy, her heart just melts too, because he is, after all, her boy and she loves him!! While Jaxx is ornery, he still is just so sweet too. It’s all part of his charm.

Jaxx loves his sisters, but he is the brother, and brothers must tease sisters. I think that is an unspoken rule!! His favorite argument with his sisters is, “Who is Daddy’s Favorite!!” Of course, his daddy loves each of his children equally, but it’s a fun argument to have, and Jaxx is just figuring that out. Jaxx may be the youngest child, but he can still give his sisters a “run for their money” when it comes to a fight. His sister Izabella fights and wrestles back, but his oldest sister, Alice takes it pretty easy on him. I’m sure she worries about hurting him. That could change as he gets older, and bigger.

Jaxx is learning about manners and etiquette. He is very careful to follow some basic rules. If someone sneezes, Jaxx is quick to say, “Bless you.” He is learning things like please, thank you, and excuse me too. One of the very sweetest aspects of his personality, is that Jaxx loves to pray at bedtime and before eating. His little spirit loves God so much, and he wants to know more about Him. His parents are active in their church, and Jaxx wants to be just like them. He has good role models to follow after all. Today is Jaxx’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

This year, with the Coronavirus, we find ourselves in a very different type of Easter holiday. Most of us are away from our family, and so we won’t be having the traditional Easter dinner and gathering. It’s a very strange year, but in one way, it is a return to a more spiritual holiday. People who have little ones probably will have the candy, and maybe the traditional dinner, but those of us, who have family that don’t live with us, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren whether they live far away, or right here in the same city, can’t get together with our families. It is the hardest thing we have ever done, especially those with young grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is terrible hard not to hold them or kiss them. We are grateful for things like FaceTime, and telephone, but they are a very poor substitute for being there together.

That said, I think that a number of us who are at home…alone or in couples, and not planning to have a special meal, are taking a step backward and reflecting on this day separately from the meal and gathering. It is a unique opportunity to focus on the real reason for this day. to focus without all the meal prep, table setting, and clean up. What a strangely wonderful opportunity!! Strange…only because we are free focus completely on Jesus and what He did for us. Usually, we honor Him by going to church, and then we come home to the preparations for the gathering with family. Next year, that is what we will do again, and that is ok, but this year…with social distancing, is a rare “gift” that we won’t have again, and that is ok too, because we would rather spend this day with our loved ones. We would rather spend this day with our family, and honor our Saviour together, but that is not to be. We will all miss each other very much today, as we do any time we are apart. And when this is over…truly over, we will all have a special dinner…a type of redemption dinner, when we are redeemed for quarantine, and free to gather once again. Then we will come together and celebrate the victory over Coronavirus…victory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to save us from sin, sickness, and disease. The He rose again to tell us all the wonderful news. Happy Easter to all…alone together, the way it needs to be for now.

My grand-nephew, Jake Harman has always held a special place in my heart, probably because he was my first grand nephew…the first of this new generation. He has also, always made sure that I know that he loves me, his great aunt. Not every kid is the demonstrative type, but Jake always gives me a big hug, tells me he loves me, and even calls me beautiful. Now that’s a kid after my own heart…or maybe he is just a flatterer at heart. I like to think the former.

Jake is a grown man now, and has a family of his own. He has a bonus daughter named Alice, who loves him very much. He also has a daughter named Izabella, and a son named Jaxx. He and his wife, Melanie are very happy together, and life is good for them. Jake works hard to support his family, and they all love him very much. Of course, the fact that Jake is definitely a kid at heart, makes him the perfect guy to entertain the kids. From “attacking” Alice, with the help of Jaxx, to chasing the kids around the yard, Jake is up for it. He doesn’t mind getting goofy with them, and it shows in how the kids interact with their dad. The really cool thing is the memories the kids will have of their dad playing with them. So often, parents are too busy to play with the kids, and yet, it is so important. Jake grows more and more in love with his wife and kids everyday.

Jake spent a number of years working for FedEx, but now he is driving a bus for the school district. With Jake’s love of kids, and his easy way with them, he has the perfect personality for a bus driver. Jake is also the youth group leader at his church, and it is a calling that has been just wonderful for him. His walk with the Lord has grown by leaps and bounds. He also gets to go on outings with the youth, and they always have a wonderful time. Working in the church, and walking with the Lord has given Jake the ability to be an important support person for those who are hurting, most importantly right now, his sister, Siara and her husband Nick Olsen, who recently lost their son, Alec. Jake and Siara were always very close, and this loss has been heartbreaking. He is also trying to be a strong support for his mom, Chantel Balcerzak, and dad, Dave, who are hurting equally badly. It hasn’t been the happiest time leading up to his birthday, but I believe that God will strengthen and comfort them all. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

His name was Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE, but in his early years, he had not been bestowed with such an honor as knighthood. That came about much later in his life. Sir Winton was born on May 19, 1909 in Hampstead, London, England. He was a British humanitarian, born to German-Jewish parents, Rudolph Wertheim (1881–1937), a bank manager, and his wife Barbara (née Wertheimer, 1888–1978) who had emigrated to Britain. His parents had moved to London two years before he was born. The family name was Wertheim, but they changed it to Winton in an effort at integration. They also converted to Christianity, and Winton was baptized. God had a plan for Sir Winton’s life, although he would not know that for years.

On the eve of World War II, Sir Winton knew what his calling had been, and he quietly set about orchestrating the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia. Sir Winton quickly found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain. The operation was known as the Czech Kindertransport, which is German for “children’s transport, but it would not be called that right away. The transport was not a official operation, and was not sanctioned as such. He worked largely alone to set this up, and most people knew nothing about it for over 50 years, but the children did not forget the man they called the British Schindler, who had saved their lives.

Then, in 1988, he was invited to the BBC television program “That’s Life!.” It was a surprise party of sorts. Little did Sir Winton know, but his secret was no longer such a secret. Arriving at the show, Sir Winton was seated in a room full of people he did not know. Soon, the truth was told to him, and he found out that the “audience” was in fact a number of the children he had rescued all those years ago. The grateful children, now grown adults, wanted to reunite with the man who had saved then all those years ago. It was the British press who celebrated him and dubbed him the “British Schindler.” Sir Winton was brought to tears, as he looked around him at all of these people who owed him their very lives, but his story did not end there. In 2003, Nicholas Winton became Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to humanity, in saving Jewish children from Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia.” Then, on October 28, 2014, he was awarded the highest honor of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion (1st class), by Czech President Miloš Zeman. The little German-Jewish boy, whose family converted to Christianity, and who always felt a love for humanity and those in need, had become a great man indeed. God did have a plan for his life, and Sir Winton had made God proud. Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 1, 2015, at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire, England, at the age of 106 years, having lived a full life. After the war, Winton worked for the International Refugee Organization and then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Paris, where he met Grete Gjelstrup, a Danish secretary and accountant’s daughter. They married in her hometown of Vejle on October 31, 1948. The couple settled in Maidenhead, England, where they raised their three children: Nick (born 1951), Barbara (born 1954) and the youngest Robin (1956–1962), who was born with Down syndrome. At the family’s insisted Robin stayed with them, rather than being sent to a residential home. Sir Winton’s son, Robin died of meningitis, the day before his sixth birthday. The death was devastating for Winton and he founded a local support organization that later became Maidenhead Mencap. Winton stood, unsuccessfully, for the town council in 1954, but later found work in the finance departments of various companies. His wife, Grete preceded him in death in 1999. Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE was a truly remarkable man.

Most people would not think that the things Dr Gisella Perl did at Auschwitz during the Holocaust were angelic in any way, but the prisoners there, the women whose lives she saved would say otherwise. To them, she was an angel of mercy…even if some of the things she had to do were so horrific that she tried to commit suicide after the war. Dr Perl was a successful Jewish gynecologist from Romania, where she lived with her husband and two children. Right before the Nazi soldiers stormed her home, she was able to hid her daughter with some non-Jews, but she, her husband, son, her elderly parents who captured and taken to Auschwitz. Once they arrived, Gisella was separated from her family. They would be sent to be slave labor or to be killed. She would never see any of them again. Because she was a doctor, she was to be used in a different way…a horrifically gruesome way. She was to work for Dr Joseph Mengele, to be at his beck and call, and the things he made her do nearly killed her. She was a doctor. She was supposed to save lives, not be involved in ending them…or worse, but that was the position he put her in.

First, he told her to round up any pregnant women. She thought she was going to be caring for these women, but after she turned over 50 women, and they were immediately sent to the gas chambers, a horrified Dr Perl made up her mind that somehow, she would do whatever she could to thwart the Nazis horrible plans. She had not understood what was goin to happen to the pregnant women she turned over, and the thought of her part in their loss of live, nearly killed her. The things she did after that first horrible mistake, might not seem to most people, including me, like the actions of an angel, but I can see that she had no real choices.

The women Dr Perl cared for had been treated horrible by the Nazi soldiers. Their wounds consisted of lashes from a whip on bare skin, to bites from dogs, to infections from the horribly unsanitary conditions. When she entered the room, the prisoners in the infirmary knew that she was there to help. That was the good part of her life at Auschwitz, but Dr Mengele was a cruel and evil man, and he was determined to kill any pregnant woman. This left Dr Perl with an extremely difficult decision to make. She could watch as the mother and baby were put to death, or she could abort the babies and give the mothers the chance to live to have a family later. The choice was unthinkable to her, but it was also a non-choice. She could lose one life or both. The abortions were performed in secret, often in darkness, and the women whose lives she saved…well, they were grateful, even though they mourned their babies and never truly got over the decisions they and Dr Perl made. Later in life, after the war, Dr Perl went on to deliver many live babies, rejoicing over each. She was bold with God, telling him, when a baby seemed unlikely to make it, that God owed her this baby, because of those she could not save in the Holocaust. God honored her prayers, and gave her the healthy babies she requested of Him. I think He considered her the Angel of Auschwitz too.

Christmas…a time with family, presents under the Christmas tree, eating far too much great food…is that all there is too it? No, of course not!! In fact, those things have very little to do with Christmas. That’s because Jesus is the reason for the season. The family time, food, and gifts are fine, but we should never forget the gift God gave us on that wonderful day so long ago. The people of Earth had made such a mess of things here. No, I’m not talking about climate change. I’m talking about sin. God could have walked away, and started the whole thing over, but His heart was with his children. He wanted us all to be with Him in Heaven, when our time here on Earth is over. He knew that we needed at Saviour, and so His son agreed to leave Heaven and come to Earth…as a helpless baby.

Adam had sinned and ruined things here, and it would take a man without sin…for his whole life, to change the whole outcome of Adam’s mistake. Jesus had to be born as a human baby, because that was the only way to operate in the Earth realm. Then, He had to live a sinless life. It didn’t matter what human parts of him were trying to tell him to do, he couldn’t get angry, be disrespectful, lie, or any other sin. If you and I were to be saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, He had to be sinless. It was the only way for his death to make a difference. It would be a horribly cruel death, and Jesus knew it, but He did what He had to do…and it all started when He came to Earth as a baby to become our Saviour. Nothing beats that.

Yes, the family gatherings are great, and the gifts are nice, but the greatest gift that was ever given was the gift of a perfect life that became the sacrifice to restore righteousness to those who could not live a perfect life. It was an amazing gift, and one we cannot ever thanks Him for enough. Happy birthday dear Jesus. Thanks you for your sacrifice, and Merry Christmas everyone. Have a great holiday, thank you for all you did for us.

One year ago today, my husband, Bob Schulenberg had a heart attack. It was one of the worst days of my life, and one of the best days of my life. I will never forget the scene after a man knocked on my car window in the parking lot at Walmart, asking me if “I know this man?” I immediately jumped out of my car and walked around the back of it, to be greeted with the worst scene of my life. Lying there on the pavement, bleeding from his head, was my precious husband. His eyes were open, but they were blank, and his skin was turning purple. After thinking I was going to lose him right there, I shook my head and said, “No!!” Getting down on the ground, I said, “Come on Bob…come on!!” Willing him to fight.

It was then that a Wyoming Medical Center, Progressive Care Unit, cardiac care nurse showed up. Ginger Sims took charge. She started checking vitals, and immediately saw that he wasn’t breathing. She turned him over and began CPR. It had been maybe a minute since his heart attack. Suddenly, I could see that there was a swarm of people there to help Bob…each one orchestrated by God to be there at that very moment, some of them who never shopped at Walmart. Sean Pesicka-Taggart saw Bob fall, and came to him immediately. It was Sean who first alerted Ginger to the problem, when she saw him trying to help Bob. After beginning CPR, and tiring of doing compressions, Laura Lance, Sean’s girlfriend, and a transport worker at WMC, told Ginger that she knew CPR and could spell her. Ginger wasn’t sure, but she needed a break. Laura took over, and Ginger could see that she did know CPR. Sean had called 911, and got help coming. Then, as she was leaving the Walmart parking lot, another nurse, Valya Boycheva, who was also a friend of Ginger’s saw someone doing CPR, and turned her car around to come back and took turns doing CPR. Ginger heard me talking to Bob, and said if I knew him, I could do rescue breathing for him. I did, with instruction. It’s amazing how quickly your mind checks out when you are in this kind of situation. I had no idea what to do, even though I should have. The next thing I knew, the fire department was there. They hooked Bob up to the Lucas Machine, which does compression automatically. Bob was loaded into the ambulance, and I went along with him. Our fireman friend, Jerod Levin brought our car to the hospital for me.

As people were leaving Walmart, a number of them, saw all this and began praying…Chelsea and Zack Kessler; Chelsea called her parents and my friends, Page and Donna LePage; a member of my church, Lori Desanti; my boss, Jim Stengel; who called Donna LePage to pray, at which point she knew who she had already been praying for. The Cath Lab at WMC was staffed by people who knew Bob…he worked on their cars…Sam Cann and John Cooke, working with Dr Pickrell and Dr Hiser, who put a stent in Bob’s heart. From heart attack, to stent and functioning heart, took just 2 hours. This was a miracle of God, and we were very blessed with more time together.

That was one year ago today. This day, October 14, 2019, Bob’s 1st Heart Re-Birthday, is a very different kind of day. This day we will go to workout at the Nerd Center at WMC, where Bob has been in maintenance since his cardiac rehab was finished. We did a lot of walking before that horrible day last year, and they say that is why Bob’s heart has done so well. I agree, but God healed his heart. There in no other explanation for me.

One might expect it to take a long time for Bob to heal, but it didn’t. He is completely back to normal now, and our lives continue on as usual…except that we truly know what we have. There is nothing that will make you appreciate your spouse more than almost losing them. It makes you realize just how blessed you are. We want to thank each and every one of the people involved in this miracle. With God’s help and your willing hearts, you all beat the Widowmaker, and we are forever grateful. Today is Bob’s 1st Heart Re-Birthday. It is an amazing day…the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice today and be very glad in it. Happy 1st Heart Re-Birthday Bob!! We all love you!!

Years ago, I watched a movie about the survivors of a Uruguayan plane that crashed in the Andes Mountains. The crash and the survival amazed me, because against all odds, the 16 men who were rescued on December 22, 1972 had survived 72 days on a glacier at 11,710 feet in the bitter cold. The plane, a Fairchild FH-227D, was a chartered Uruguayan Air Force plane, designated as Flight 571, carrying 45 people. The flight carrying 19 members of a rugby team, family, supporters, and friends, took off from Montevideo, Uruguay on Friday, October 13, 1972, en route to Santiago, Chile. An error in the pilot’s calculations caused the plane to turn north too soon from the mountain pass it was going through, and put it on a collision course with the mountain peaks on either side of it. There were initially 28 people who survived the crash, but injuries, bitter cold, and an avalanche took the lives of all but the 16 who were rescued. The rescue might never have happened had not Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa make the trek from the glacier known before the crash as the Valley of Tears, in the Cordillera.

Recently I read another book on the flight, called Out Of The Silence: After The Crash by Eduardo Strauch, one of the survivors of the crash. The book was very good, and while it didn’t tell more than the movie had shown exactly, it put a very different perspective on the dire situation of the survivors, and the faith of the survivors and their loved ones, waiting at home for news. The book talked about the many premonitions, visions, and dreams that came out of the endless hours of waiting. It spoke of the several people who had a premonition before takeoff that the plane might crash. It spoke of the mother, who at the time of the crash had a vision of her son sitting in the plane seat covered in blood. She said that he looked like he was sleeping and she knew that he had died…she was right. It spoke of another mother who saw her son with just a bruise on his head, but very much alive. He was, and the bruise was where she saw it. And it spoke of the vivid dream Nando had, of the survivors being rescued by Christmas…which they were.

The book reminded me of times in my own life when I have experienced such “foretelling of things to come.” Because of my deep religious convictions I struggle with things like psychics and I don’t believe in séances or talking to the dead, but rather that God tells us of things to come, a truth which is found in His Word, the Bible. I recalled the time that I was at my mom and dad’s house, and Dad was at work. The phone rang, and I suddenly got an uncomfortable feeling that something had happened to my dad. I discounted it when the call on the phone that seemingly brought the feeling about, turned out to be something else. I went home, and when I got there, my mom called to tell me that a heavy steel beam had fallen on my dad’s foot, crushing his little toe, which is not protected by the steel toe on a boot. I have since marveled at the fact that I had that feeling at the precise time of the accident.

Mom also had such a “telling of things to come” after my Dad became ill in Canada, while they and my sister Cheryl were on vacation, driving on the north shore of Lake Superior. My sisters, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I had rushed to Canada to be with the them and hold vigil over our very ill dad. One night, Mom woke us all up saying that we needed to pack up, because we were going to be taking Dad home that day. At the time we thought that she was in a state of crazed delirium, due to the stress and seriousness of the situation. While listening to Nando’s announcement to his friends upon awaking from his dream on that mountain, saying that they would be home by Christmas, it occurred to me that while her timing was off, my mom was right in that Dad would leave that place and come back to his life here.

It is a very strange thing to know that God has spoken to you in such a way, and many people do not even believe that it happened, but too many of these incidences have taken place to discount them. There were several people who worked in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, who were told by God not to go to work that day. Those who obeyed, were later shocked by what took place, and the part they might have played in those events. There was also a woman in the second tower, who when the announcement was made to return to their offices, was told by God to “get out of there and take as many people with her as she could.” She obeyed and saved a number of people who chose to listen to her warning that they must leave immediately. Whatever you choose to call these events, they are real, and while we never know at the moment they come, if we will look foolish for listening to them, or be exonerated when things play out exactly as we saw them…we find ourselves in the position of making a choice to listen or not to…come what may.

There are two major ways that God has “gifted” His children. Yes, God gives us great and wonderful gifts all the time, but the greatest gift He could give us was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth as a baby, and went through all the same things in life that we did, but did it all without sinning. Most of us can’t imagine going through 10 minutes without having a wrong thought, action, or attitude. We can be sharp tongued, selfish, and grouchy. Jesus could do none of those things. Everything he did had to be truthful, kind, and selfless. He had to be all the things we could not be, and then he had to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because the people of Earth were in trouble…and without Jesus, there was no way out of it.

God knew that we were lost and that there was no Earthly way out of the situation, so because He loved the world so much, He sent His Son, Jesus and Jesus willingly came to Earth, knowing what would happen to him when he was a grown man. He could have stopped it. He could have told his Father that he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t. He accepted the unspeakable job that his Father, our God set before him, and he went through with it. I’m sure he thought about how horrible this would be, and I’m sure that a part of him wanted to make the whole progression stop, but he knew that if he didn’t do it, the world would have to pay the price of spiritual death for eternity.

What an amazingly selfless act of love!! Jesus paid it all…past, present, and future. We are free!! We are redeemed!! The horrible crucifixion was a successful payment for our sins. I am redeemed…we are all redeemed, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s as simple as that. Thank you Jesus!! Happy Resurrection Day!!

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