The older I get, the more that I know that Heaven is my true home. Never is that fact more clear, than on Resurrection Sunday, because whether we know the exact day or not, we know that it was that day that the Christians first knew that they were truly right with God again. Many people have disputed the celebration of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, saying that it’s roots were in paganism, but I have to say that I refuse to give the devil any day on this earth. I know why I celebrate Easter. It’s not because of a bunny, but because of a lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God…the sacrifice that paid for the sins of the world…past, present, and future. And now, because He lives, I know that I can face tomorrow. It is because of the grace of God…the unearned, unmerited favor and mercy of a loving God that I get to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. That is what the day is about, and if we are celebrating it on the wrong day, I don’t think God will mind. It’s not about getting the day right, but rather getting the reason right.
The sacrifice that Jesus made on Good Friday was so much more than what we often think about. Yes, when Jesus died…an innocent man, it was to forgive all our sins, past, present, and future, but the reason he returned to the earth was to justify us…to put us back in right standing with God forever…just as if we had never sinned. That is why we can say that we are a new creation when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour…because God no longer sees our sins. They are gone forever. When Jesus died on the cross, the sacrifice was enough. Nothing more is required, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and we are going to Heaven. The cross was all it took…the cross was enough!!
Most of God’s celebratory days, include a feast, and Resurrection Sunday should be no different. Resurrection Day is a celebration, after all. Someone said that Earth’s saddest day, and it happiest day…are only three days apart. Today, I am thankful for the sacrifice my Lord Jesus made, and for the triumphant return to earth that followed so that I could always know that the cross was enough, and I am going to be alright…now and in Heaven. Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice!! Happy Resurrection Day everyone. Have a blessed day!!
The first time I met my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s great Uncle Frank Knox and his sweet wife, Helen, was in the summer of 1976, when they and their son, Richard so graciously brought Frank’s parents, Edgar and Nellie Knox to Casper to visit their son Robert’s family, of which I was now a member. It was such a kind act for them to bring Edgar and Nellie, and it showed the kind spirits that they were. Edgar and Nellie were getting on in years, as was their son Robert, who was their eldest son. Edgar was 93 years old at the time, and little did any of us know, that his life was nearer its end than anyone could have expected. The visit took place the end of July of 1976, and Edgar would pass away on August 28, 1976, just about a month later. Nellie would live another 8 years and was blessed in that Frank and Helen would again bring her out to Casper for a visit, about four years later. Again, I was moved by the acts of kindness they showed to Frank’s parents. Nellie passed away on February 10, 1984, at 97 years old, having lived a good long life.
I am reminded of the fourth Commandment of God, which says, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” I know that for their kind and loving acts, over the years, Frank and Helen have been very blessed. Frank and Helen married on June 13, 1946. Their marriage was blessed with five sons, Robert, David, Gregory, Wesley, and Richard. They were good people, and raised good children, and the rest of the family feels very blessed to have known them. Over the years, they made several trips to Casper, and it was always fun to see them. Frank and Helen have long since retired, and their memories have faded, which I find very sad, because they both had amazing minds. They knew so much and they were willing to share their knowledge with anyone who was interested in listening. The last time I spoke to Frank was when my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg passed away. I could tell that his memory was diminished, but it was a good visit, and he did remember some things He told me that Helen’s memory wasn’t as good as his was, and that made me sad too. I haven’t spoken to her in a number of years.
Last might, we got the word, that Helen had passed away on January 11, 2017. While I was very sad that she is gone, I know that she was very blessed. You see, Helen was 99 years old. How many people get to live to be 99 years old. Helen’s kindness over the years to everyone she knew, but especially to her parents and to Frank’s parents have given her the benefit of God’s promise of a long life, and since Frank is still living, at 96 years old, it is very obvious that he will also reap the benefit of that same promise. They are both wonderful people. Rest now in peace, Helen Knox. You will be greatly missed, but I know that you are happy in Heaven, and your memory has been restored to you again. We love you, and miss you already.
With everyone arguing about whether or not religion has a place in politics, today seemed a good day to discuss the common misconception people have about the constitutional amendment they so often quote as the basis for their arguments. Our founding fathers came to this country, largely because in England they were forced to attend the Church of England…by law. Whether they agreed or not, or even whether the church was teaching correctly or not, was completely irrelevant. That was the church, and that was where people were expected to go. For any who wonder why so many of us are against the influx of Muslims, this is the reason…not because we disagree with their religion, but because it is the goal of Islam to force the entire world to convert to Islam. Our founding fathers, and indeed most Americans believe so strongly in the right to choose which religion, or even the lack of a religion, we want to practice, that we are willing to fight to keep that right. This amendment is simply not negotiable.
Nevertheless, the misconception comes when people misstate the first amendment, claiming that it means that religion has no place in politics. That statement is fundamentally wrong, and not what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when in 1779, he wrote the “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.” America was settled by people who wanted religious freedom, and Jefferson believed in freedom of religion, too. He didn’t believe that churches should be funded by taxes, thereby giving the government authority in the beliefs of the church. The bill said that “no man shall be compelled (forced) to frequent (go to) or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever.” Some people were against it even then, and it did not become law at that time. It did, however, create a friendship between Jefferson and James Madison, who believed the say way.
In 1784, Jefferson left for Paris, France to perform his duties as US foreign minister to France. That left James Madison with the task of making the bill into law. No easy task, because it had failed on its first attempt. Undaunted, Madison presented the bill to the Virginia Assembly, and with a few minor changes, it passed in 1786. Elated, Madison sent word to Jefferson in Paris. When the bill passed, Virginia became the first state to free religions from state rule. It is still part of Virginia’s constitution. It was used as a model for other state’s constitutions. It was also used as a model for the religious language in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If people would read the Constitutional amendment and the Bill of Rights carefully, they would, indeed find that it says nothing at all about keeping religion out of politics, and everything about keeping the government out of religions. Thomas Jefferson believed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom was one of his greatest achievements. So strongly did he believe in his accomplishments, that he wanted his tombstone to list the “things that he had given the people.” It reads: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of Independence of The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom And Father of the University of Virginia.” Why did Jefferson want the Statute for Religious Freedom on his tombstone? It was because he could see what could happen when one religion was allowed to hold hostage the rest of the nation, or indeed, the world. That is why we will never give up the fight, and we will oppose all religions that would try to force themselves on us. People should stop using this convenient misconception to try to further their own agendas in this nation.
Because I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, located at the tip of Lake Superior, and across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota, I am interested in all things that have to do with that area. My family moved to Casper, Wyoming when I was three, so I was not raised in that area, but somehow, it is in my blood. I will always have roots I can feel there. We still have a large number of family members there, and we continue to get to know them more and more due to a trip back there, and continued connections on Facebook. For that family we are very grateful, because they are all amazing.
As I said, I love the area around Lake Superior, and the shipping business that comes through there is an amazing thing to watch. In order for shipping to thrive on Lake Superior, they had to have a way to get the big oar boats and other large ships into the port. In 1892, a contest was held to find a solution for the transportation needs to go from Minnesota Point to the other side of the canal that was dug in 1871. a man named John Low Waddell came up with the winning design for a high rise vertical lift bridge. The city of Duluth was eager to build the bridge, but the War Department didn’t like the design, and so the project was cancelled before it started. It really was an unfortunate mistake.
Later, new plans were drawn up for a structure that would ferry people from one side to the other. This one was designed by Thomas McGilvray, a city engineer. That structure was finished in 1905. The gondola had a capacity of 60 tons and was able to carry 350 people, plus wagons, streetcars, and automobiles. The trip across took about a minutes and the ferry crossed once every five minutes, but as the population grew, the demand for a better way across grew too. They would have to rethink the situation, and amazingly, he firm finally commissioned with designing the new bridge was the descendant of Waddell’s company…the original design winner. The new design, which closely resembles the 1892 concept, is attributed to C.A.P. Turner. I guess they should have used that design in the first place, and it might have saved a lot of money.
Construction began in 1929. They knew that they had to be able to accommodate the tall ships that would pass through. In the new design, the roadway simply lifted in the middle, and after the ship went through it lowered again, becoming a bridge for cars. The design is amazing, and grabs the attention of thousands of people on a regular basis. The new bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. Raising the bridge to its full height of 135 feet takes about a minute. The bridge is raised approximately 5,000 times per year. The bridge span is about 390 feet. As ships pass, there is a customary horn blowing sequence that is copied back. The bridge’s “horn” is actually made up of two Westinghouse Airbrake locomotive horns. Long-short-long-short means to raise the bridge, and Long-short-short is a friendly salute. The onlookers love it, and the crews often wave as well. It is like a parade of ships on a daily basis, and probably the reason that the bridge is so often the subject of pictures of the area. Happy 86th Anniversary to the Duluth Lift Bridge.
As the first year without our mother, comes to a close, I find myself with mixed feelings. I miss my mother so much, but I know where she is, and that makes is a little easier. That doesn’t, however, make the sting of missing her go away. It’s hard to live on this Earth without your parents. Oh, I know it is something most people go through at one time or another in their lives, but no one really knows exactly how that feels until they have been through it. I know I didn’t. There are times when the sadness fills my soul so much that I cannot hold back the tears.
At other times, I think back on the things our parents taught us. There are so many life lessons…their teachings that made us the people we are today. My mother was the sunny one. She hated having her family sad or even grouchy. If someone was grouchy, she would often start singing, Keep On The Sunny Side. That song always held a special place for all of us. My mom really was the keeper of the sunshine in our house. She loved to laugh and sing, and many was the morning that we woke up to the nursery song, Good Morning. Mom sang often. I think that went back to her childhood years. When her mother and siblings were working around the house, they always held sing-alongs. The way we grow up has a lot to do with the way we run our own homes…and Mom grew up around songs and team work. We grew up doing chores, and we never felt like there was something wrong with that. I can’t say that we always wanted to do our chores, but we knew there was a good reason to share the chores. Probably the main one being to stay out of trouble.
My mom knew a lot of songs. They filled her heart. Some of her favorites were hymns, because God was always first and foremost in her life. Like many of us in the family, the songs we sang in church on Sunday morning tended to stick in our heads throughout the week. I find myself singing them all through the week. Mom had some particular favorites too. She liked In The Garden, Jesus Loves Me, How Great Thou Art, and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. She sang these songs often, and when she did, she always felt like she was closer to God. Of course, Mom was always walking with God. If she wasn’t reading her Bible, she was reading books by her favorite Evangelists or listening to teaching tapes and videos. Mom knew that Heaven was her home, and when she got ready, and she was satisfied with the things she had done in her life, she made the decision to go home. I know there are those who won’t understand that, but my mom was not sick in any way…she just decided to go home to be with her Lord. That was one year ago today, and while we miss her terribly, we know that she is home, and that’s where she really wants to be. We love you Mom. And we can’t wait to see you and Dad again.
It would be hard for me to imagine walking away from all I knew to travel to India to begin a thirteen year run as the wife of a missionary, especially in 1874, but that is exactly what Mary Barr Uhl did. Mary was a somewhat distant cousin on my husband, Bob’s side of the family…specifically the Knox side of his family. The beginnings of her future mission were actually laid by when she was still a child. An elderly relative, Dr John Scudder laid his hand on her head and stated his wish for her to become a missionary. I’m sure that for a little girl, being a missionary meant very little, but as she grew, perhaps the words stayed with her. Sometimes, when we think about something like that for so many years, events in our lives line up to put us in exactly the right position to fulfill just such a mission, without our really thinking about it very much at all. Such was the case for little Mary Barr.
Mary Barr was born in Savannah, Ohio, and was educated there and in Springfield, Ohio. As was the case with most girls in those days, becoming a teacher was the degree of choice, and so Mary Barr became a teacher. As time went by, it’s possible that the desire of the elderly Dr John Scudder to have Mary become a missionary, faded into the past to a degree, until she met Lemon Leander Uhl. Leander as he was called, was a pastor in the Lutheran church. Dr Uhl was a graduate of Wittenberg College and Seminary in Springfield, Ohio, and did his post graduate work at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The couple married in the fall of 1872, and Dr Uhl became a missionary in the India field of the General Synod, Lutheran Church. Thus, the desire of Mary’s relative, Dr John Scudder, became a reality. Leander and Mary would spend the next thirteen years in the mission field in India. Mary and Leander arrived in Guntur, India in March of 1873. Mary opened the first school for girls of the upper classes and the first Zenana work for the same classes. She carried on both forms of mission work for many years. Mary’s perseverance and dedication won her great respect in that country. She was an untiring worker among the Telugu Hindus, and aided her husband in the Anglo Vernacular School by visiting the young men students in their homes.
Mary and Leander’s only child, Grace was born in Guntur, India during those missionary years. That is another thing I can’t quite imagine…having my baby so far away from my mother, and the doctors that I trusted in the United States, but by then, perhaps Mary felt comfortable with the help she had around her. It didn’t matter really, because she had no choice. You can’t stop babies from coming when it’s time. You just have to go through it. For Mary, childbirth went well, and she had a beautiful little daughter. It was by the grace of God, and so they named her Grace. While I’m sure that giving birth in a foreign country might have been an event filled with apprehension, the life they gave their daughter was one of many experiences. Not only did Grace experience life in another country, but she experienced schooling in many places. Grace would graduate from the College of Liberal Arts of Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mary Barr Uhl’s life took many turns that might have seemed far fetched to a child, who had been told of the desire of an elderly relative, but in the end, the desire of Dr John Scudder, that little Mary Barr would become a missionary had come to pass. Her life was not ruled by this man, it was just his desire…that became her desire too. Perhaps he saw something in that little girl that told him that she would be a great missionary. I suppose we will never know, but Mary did indeed, become a great missionary, and spent many years serving God in that capacity before retiring and returning to the United States. She died on March 26, 1926 at the age of 80 years, having fulfilled her destiny.
The presents are purchased, the packages wrapped, all of the commercialized aspects of the day are over now and there is finally time to take a moment to ponder the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour…Jesus. So often, we spend so much time rushing around trying to get ready for the holiday, that we have little time to think about the wonderful thing our Father, God did for us!! We were a world lost, and destined for Hell!! He had no obligation to help us. We got into this predicament by ourselves…and He could have left us there, but God’s love is not like human love. We hold grudges…even with those we love. God does not hold grudges, but rather, He set out to make a plan to turn it all around. He came up with a plan to send Jesus to Earth…and worked it out so that He lived a sinless life, as a human, and then paid the price… the ultimate price. And Jesus agreed to the plan. He gave his life for us so we could live our lives under grace, and receive Heaven and not Hell in the end.
So often, the birth of our Saviour is all but forgotten in the mix of Santa Clause and a big dinner. I find that really sad, especially in light of the sacrifice He made for us. I can’t imagine being God and deciding to take on a human form, much less a baby who is for much of its young life helpless, and forced to rely on others for all your needs. Then, while you had never sinned in any way, you are taken captive, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Then in the only way it could possibly work, Jesus was separated for God, while he took all the sins of the world on himself. It had to be, because the worst result of sin, is separation for God. That would be far worse than Hell could ever be. God’s love is the most important thing we have. It is what saves us from the pit of Hell.
There is nothing wrong with the Christmas traditions we cherish so much, and giving has always been what God is all about. The main thing is that in the midst of all of our traditions, we take time to be thankful for the greatest gift ever given. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, one of the most important verses in a book that is the greatest book ever written…the Bible. God is love, and when we sinned, He stepped up and made a way for us to be reconciled to him. He sent a Saviour named Jesus. And that is the real reason for the Christmas season. Merry Christmas everyone!! May God bless you all!!
With our nation’s Independence Day upon us, I find myself, like many other Americans, in a rather weary and confused state. So much about our country has changed, that it has almost become unrecognizable to me. The United States of America has always been known as the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now it seems that we are becoming the land of the free, only if we agree with what a select few want, and as for the brave, well it’s becoming very much out of style to stand up for our beliefs, values, or even for our country. I’m not picking on any one group here, but rather I find myself feeling quite sad that the sense of pride we have always felt for our nation is suddenly gone…at least in the minds of some people. I know that everyone really has a right to live their life in the way that they want to, but the problem is that lately everyone wants to tell everyone else how to believe. With that in mind, I thought it fitting to remind people about why our ancestors came here in the first place.
When our forefathers left England, it was to get away from a government that made it a treasonous act to separate from the Church of England. The people who did not agree with the teachings of the Church of England had to leave or they would be killed. That was the reason that the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” These were very important parts of our Constitution. The problem is that many people have forgotten those rights, or they have mixed up the meaning, thinking that we are not to have anything to do with religion in our government. That isn’t it at all. It says that the government is to stay out of our religious beliefs. That is not what is happening. Our current government is far too invasive in our religions.
As time went on, England tried to usurp more and more authority over the young colonies. They tried to interfere with religion, economics, and politics. Even though we were a nation basically under them, we knew it could not continue much longer. It was decided that we needed to be independent from England. That was when we knew that we could not continue to be under this type of rule. So, why do we celebrate the 4th of July…Independence Day. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. But it wasn’t on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. That was on July 2, 1776. It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either. That had happened back in April 1775. And it wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He did that in June 1776. It wasn’t even the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain. That didn’t happen until November 1776. It wasn’t even the date it was signed. That was August 2, 1776.
No, we celebrate the 4th of July, because that was the day that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. That was the day that truly represents our Independence. Not the day it was accepted by Britain, but the day we decided to make it our own. That was the day we made freedom and independence our own. It was the day that we decided to live in peace together, with each man, woman, and child having certain rights that should never be denied them. I think some people in our country, and especially our leadership have forgotten that fact in their race to political correctness, anti-racism, and a thinly disguised attempt to control our religious rights.
I read yesterday that Earth’s saddest day and it’s happiest day are just three days apart. That is truly one of the most profound statements ever written. On Good Friday, Jesus had to die to take away the sins of the world, and today, Easter Sunday, just three days later, He rose from the dead triumphant, having paid the debt that the world could not pay. The one act was the most amazing act in the history of Earth. It was a selfless act of a loving Saviour. He knew it would be painful and he knew he would have to endure separation from His Father, and yet he chose to do it anyway, because he knew that the people of Earth had no other way out of the horrible mess they were in. Now, every year we honor Jesus, because He loved us so much that he gave up his life for us. We also live every day looking forward to the day when we will live in Heaven with Him forever. On this…Resurrection Sunday, I honor Jesus, my Lord and Saviour.
For many of us getting caught up in the whole Easter Bunny thing is all there is to it, but it shouldn’t be. Today also needs to be a day of reflection on all that our loving God did for us when He made a plan to save us from eternal damnation. Lately, I have been thinking about just how temporary this life is. When we are young, it seems like we have so much time left, but as we get older, we understand that this is not our home. Heaven is our home. We are travelers here, on our journey to eternity. We can choose were we will spend that eternity…Heaven or Hell. If we decide that we don’t want to be in Hell, then we have to make Jesus the Lord of our life. It is that simple. Jesus said to him in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Not everyone agrees with me on this, I’m sure, and that is their right. God gives each of us the right to decide which side we will choose…Heaven or Hell, but it is His hope that each of us will choose, Heaven…life…Jesus. The Bible says in Joshua 24:15, “But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.” It is your choice, and I pray that you will choose Jesus! Then, Heaven will be your home.
Over the years, I have watched my niece, Jenny Spethman grow in so many ways. Of course, I’ve seen her grow from a little girl into a teenager, adult, wife, and mother, but those are simply the normal changes we all go through in life. Jenny has changed in so many other, more important ways though. Growth can take on very different and complicated forms, but the greatest growth is in the area of the spiritual, and it is in that area that I find Jenny to have almost literally exploded. I have watched her faith in God grow by leaps and bounds.
Life has not always been easy for Jenny. She has had her share of heartaches, as those who know her can attest, but through it all, she and her husband, Steve Spethman have never faltered on one thing…their faith in God. When people lose a child, often the first thing that is questioned is to ask God why He did this, but not Jenny and Steve. They knew that this was not God. And they then doubled their focus on God’s word, and his promise that they will see their baby girl, Laila in Heaven, and until then, she is in the arms of Jesus and enjoying time with family who have also gone on to Heaven. Jenny and Steve have been blessed with their three sons, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, as well as their daughters, Laila, and now Aleesia, who is almost 2½ years old. Every day is viewed as a blessing beyond measure, even though they miss Laila terribly.
I had really never thought of Jenny as a morning person, although I don’t know why, but these days, at least, she cherishes the early morning hours, as a time to see God’s great sunrises and reflect on His teachings and promises to her. She also loves to see the moon and stars, again because she knows that God has blessed her life with such enormous beauty. I think that it is in these quiet moments of reflection, often before her family wakes up, that Jenny has grown closer and closer to God. She knows that He is not only her Father, Lord, and Saviour, but in all reality, her Daddy and friend. A friend that sticks closer that all others, and no matter what life brings her.
Jenny has grown in so many ways, and each area of growth has made her a more and more beautiful person, both inside and out. I am so proud of her and all that she has become. I look forward to the time to come when I will see her grow even more, especially in her walk with the Lord. Today is Jenny’s birthday. You are an amazing woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!