Three Soldiers 

This Veteran’s Day, PruittWrites would like to briefly spotlight Three Soldiers of World War 1. It was after this conflict that Veteran’s Day was enacted. So we find it only fitting to look into the lives of three men who defended our nation during this time.

General Of The Armies

Only two men hold the title, and one of them was George Washington. The other, actually held it first, while in command, General Of The Armies.  His uniform included the wearing of four gold stars instead of silver, and any soldier that knew him, would tell you he deserved it. General Pershing was a man ahead of his time, a believer in equality, fairness, and in the American Soldier.

The famous epitaph he was given, “Black Jack”, came first as a derogatory slang for leading African American troops. Before joining the army, he taught local African American children in his home state of Missouri. In 1895 he commanded one of the original Buffalo soldier regiments in the 10th Cavalry. He led the regiment in the battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

A lifetime of faithful, and expert service resulted in him being chosen to lead the entire American forces during World War 1. He was appointed the title General Of The Armies on the same year that Veteran’s Day was instituted in honor of our soldiers, 1919. This teacher, this soldier, this general, would go on to win the Pulitzer prize for his memoirs on the events of World War 1.

Sgt. York

Sergeant Alvin Cullum York, became one of the most decorated soldiers for his bravery during World War 1. He was awarded the Medal Of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun post that eliminated 32 machine guns, and captured 132 prisoners. The son of a blacksmith, he was born in a two room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee on December 13, 1887.

As a young man, after the death of his Father, he worked to help his Mother support a family that included eleven children. His two older brothers having already married and relocated, it became his responsibility. Alvin would travel to Harriman for work in construction, and later logging to make the ends meet.

It was General Pershing himself awarded Sergeant York the Medal Of Honor. Alvin would go on to win nearly 50 decorations for bravery. A strong Christian, when asked about his accomplishments, he replied, “A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do.”

Sergeant York retired a hero, and though many would have been content to leave it at that, he wasn’t. When World War 2 arrived, he attempted to re-enlist. He was turned down, due to poor health, but that did not stop the man from Tennessee. He was commissioned as a Major in the Signal Corps.

At his own expense, he toured training camps, inspiring the soldiers. He taught them that well trained soldiers can fight their way out of any situation. Although he rose to the rank of Colonel in the Tennessee State Guard, to us and countless of Americans, he will always be Sergeant York.

First Lieutenant

Our last soldier, cheated to get into the Army. His eyesight was considered so poor, that he was turned down for service. This happened both at West Point, and the Missouri National Guard. Harry wouldn’t let it stop him though, he secretly memorized the eye chart to get in.

He was determined to serve his country. Others saw this determination and Harry was made First Lieutenant. A sudden attack by the enemy in the Vosges Mountains could have proved disastrous, had it not been for Harry. His unit began to retreat, but Harry encouraged them to stay and fight, leading his men.

On another occasion, his quick thinking in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive saved many American lives. Future World War 2 hero, General Patton’s tank brigade, would receive cover from his men as well. Like General Pershing, and Sergeant York, Harry would go on to serve his country during World War 2. First as a Senator from Missouri, then as Vice President, and finally as President Harry S. Truman.

In their own way, these three WW1 Veterans, taught their fellow Americans something. No matter what age, no matter how old, or how young, we are never too anything to stand for our country. 

The soldiers that have fought, bled, and either perished or survived in the defense of our great country deserve all of our honor. No matter what political persuasion, regardless of opinion, passion, or background, we can all stand together in this. The American Soldier doesn’t stand for a platform, candidate, or temporary argument, they stand for us. May God bless our soldiers, the frontline for all that we believe in and hold dear.

Burnt Sweet Potato Pie

Trudy fought to hold back the tears. She had followed the recipe to a t, she thought. Her first clue was the smoke, the second was the foam that formed on the edge of the pan. When one bite of the quickly cooled concoction confirmed her fears, uncontrollable sobs fell. This was not the Thanksgiving she had planned.

She had successfully cooked Thanksgiving dinner before, she wasn’t a novice. Granted it had been a few years, Mom and her sisters had rotated the responsibility of the main dinner for the last five years. It had been four since her last turn.

Everyone brought sides, but the main house did three dishes, the turkey, the dressing, and the sweet potato pie. Trudy was afraid the turkey looked drier than last time, but she was probably overthinking it. She reminded herself the dressing needed more sage, but the thing that she had to get right was dessert.

Now, her first sweet potato pie was a flop. She had done something wrong, but she didn’t have time to figure it out. She sat it aside on the counter by the sink, and started two new ones. “Charles, I need you.”

These words, on this day, struck fear into her husband’s heart. He had been part of a big family, the first to get his license. Charles knew what that meant on Thanksgiving day. He still remembered the look his Father had given him the first day it had happened.

Particularly the smile that seemed to say, “You have the license now, it’s your turn.” His Dad had muttered something when he tossed him the keys, that sounding suspiciously like “I’m free.” Ever since then, Charles waited til Wendy had gotten her license. He thanked God every day that his Father had not been a chauvinist, especially that first Thanksgiving when it was her turn.

“What am I getting?” Was his intended first sentence, until he saw the tears. “Baby, what’s wrong? Don’t worry, everything’s going to be ok. How can I help?” Was what came out as he hugged his bride. “Sweet potatoes, sugar, pecans … Too much to say, I’ll text you.”

It was his second trip that day, and he felt noble in the fact that he had resisted responding like his brother Joe had last year at his house. “Joe still winces when he eats a turkey sandwich a year later.” He said as he looked at the market once getting out of the car.

It was as horrible as he expected it to be, but he made it home in forty five minutes. Any other day, it would have been a twenty minute trip. Trudy had him double check her on every step. Soon, both pies were in the oven, and Trudy placed two more in the refrigerator as backups to cook next.

The Hudson/Cantrell family loved their sweet potato pies. While they cooked, Trudy went to change, charging Charles with the responsibility of watching them. Sweet potato pie hadn’t been as big a deal to the Hudson side of the family until he married Trudy.

For some reason, the Cantrell family put it right up above the dressing, almost more important than the turkey. No one had ever said why. When Trudy came back, one still wasn’t ready. She took the one out to cool, and put one of the refrigerator pies in the oven.

Charles ran to catch a very quick shower. He had just finished dressing when the doorbell rang. Soon all the family was laughing and talking about memories. Everything was going great.

Trudy was still a little preoccupied. Her Mom asked her what was going on. She said she just wanted to make sure the dessert was ok. Even her Mom thought she was over checking the kitchen, and her Mom was a worry wart.

She switched out the two that were done, and placed the last refrigerator pie in the oven. They sat down to eat. Trudy’s Dad would say Grace, and Charles’ Dad would ask each what they were thankful for.

Before long, everyone was eating. It was going well. Charles smiled at Trudy, and she smiled back, until the smell came from the kitchen. This time the smoke alarm went off. She had forgotten the last pie.

Trudy ran to the kitchen, and Charles followed. She took it out of the oven, and turned it off. Charles stopped the alarm. Tears started again, her mother Molly looked at George and he obediently followed.

There in the middle of the kitchen the two couples consoled one another. Molly took her daughter by the hand, and set her on the stool. “This isn’t about the sweet potato pie. You got three out of four right.”

“More like three out of five, I burnt one earlier. I just wanted the dessert to be perfect.” Trudy explained. Charles added an explanation. “We were going to make an announcement after the sweet potato pie.”

Molly looked at her daughter, then looked at her husband, and then at George. His eyes got big, a sentimental smile began, which turned into boisterous laughter. This started her daughter’s tears again, until George rushed to explain.

“Honey, I’m not laughing at you, or Charles. I’m laughing at a couple about thirty two years ago. Dry your face, come into the dining room. Make your announcement, and we’ll explain.”

Reluctantly, she agreed. They all rejoined the family. Trudy and Charles shared their news, and for the next thirty minutes, everyone congratulated the expecting couple. George, not wanting to steal their thunder, waited til everyone sat down to sweet potato pie.

“Molly and I have been married for thirty four years. Two years after we were married, we found out that a very special gift was on it’s way. When she arrived, we named her Trudy, and we found out she was coming the second week of November.”

“It was your Mother’s plan to announce after Thanksgiving dinner. She made all kinds of things for dessert, back then you cooked for days. She decided to try something that wasn’t a family tradition for us, sweet potato pie.”

Molly took over. “A friend at work told me how much her family loved it. So I decided I’d try it. They didn’t turn out so well.”

George laughed again. “They were burnt sweet potato pies. I never forgot the taste of the piece I ate.”

Molly gave him a mock look of anger and smiled. “Everyone reassured me it was fine, but only George insisted on eating two pieces. We told everyone that we were going to have a baby, and from then on sweet potato pie became very important to us. Although your Dad always insisted we buy enough for four pies.”

George finished it up. “I was very thankful for burnt sweet potato pie then. I never wanted to eat it again. Now, today, I don’t really mind it.”

Thanksgiving has always been more than turkey and the trimmings. It’s about being thankful for your faith, family, friends, and blessings. An sometimes yes, it’s about food, parades, memories, and even burnt sweet potato pie.

A Turkey Flew Over Pittsburgh

The problem is not Thanksgiving, not the cooking, or the dinner itself, not the football, and certainly not the parade. The problem is the next morning. I work on Black Friday. I have for the last 10 years, until last year.

I had nightmares about Black Friday. People who are nice people, seemingly mild-mannered individuals turn on you. Like Mr. Poulin, or Mrs. Crabtree. The fear started the first of November, and it built right up until I finished the gravy at Grandma’s house.

I’m a sane, rational thirty year old man, but something snapped. Instead of driving home, I found myself on the interstate, then at the airport, and on the plane. I kept looking over my shoulder, as if Mr. Summers, my boss, would drag me off the plane.

Once we took off, I finally started to relax, even drifted off to sleep, for about ten minutes. Then I woke up in a cold sweat, realizing this wasn’t a dream. I had ran away from home, on Thanksgiving day!

Of course, it wasn’t exactly home. It was a one bedroom apartment over my Uncle Felix’s garage, and there was no one at home. I was headed to a strange city, on a family holiday, all by myself.

It may sound like my senses had returned, but it hadn’t, only a momentarliy tremor. Instead of grabbing a ticket on the first plane home, I got a taxi, and a room at a small hotel. There was only one person to call, one person that would talk me back from anxiety town, Grandma.

She listened calmly, replied at the appropriate points, and waited for me to run down. Then she started talking, and said the complete opposite of what I had anticipated. When she says something I do it, no matter what.

“Preston, you need to quit your job. Stay in … where did you end up?” I swallowed hard. “Right now I’m in Pittsburgh, but …”.

“Stay there, you need this. You’re my grandson and I love you, but you lean towards the routine, you need something to shake you up. I’ve been praying for years you would wake up and try something, now you have.”

“This isn’t forever, give it two weeks, some things are going to happen to you Preston, and they’ll happen before you get back on the plane to come home.”

I was too stunned to argue, so I agreed, and followed her instructions. First, I called a sleepy Mr. Summers, and quit my job. Then I ate a nice dinner, life altering events make me hungry, and I went to bed.

You know how your subconscious works things out while you’re sleeping? Well, mine went this way. In my dream, Grandma was President, and I was the Turkey they pardon every year, only instead of a farm, I went to Pittsburgh!

Others would run away to Hawaii, California, or Alaska. Me, I ended up a state away, in a city I didn’t know anyone in. I really felt like the turkey in my dream, who tried to fly, but couldn’t get off the ground.

So, the next morning I got up, shaved, showered, and what do you think this college graduate, bird brain, did? I went to a department store. A lot like the one that had terrified me enough to run away from. As I said, “Gobble, gobble”, under my breath, I thought of how much I felt like what I ate yesterday.

Then I found me correcting myself, “He had a purpose”. I had thought I had said it in my mind, when the store clerk asked me. “Who had a purpose?” Realizing I probably seemed crazy, I answered, “The turkey.”

I don’t know what I expected her to say. No, I take that back, I expected the look I give crazy shoppers when their fighting over a set of dish towels. Instead, she just said, “Oh.”

It wasn’t that it had been a kind response, more like a deer in headlights reaction. That’s what, I think, made me notice her. She seemed as helpless as I felt. Apparently, people in Pittsburgh were just as confused as I was.

If that was the case, then why was I here? I asked myself again if Waikiki wasn’t a better place to find yourself. All of this took place in about thirty seconds. We just looked at each other, and not the way you look at someone you’re attracted to, at that point, I doubt either one of us could tell what the other looked like.

It wasn’t that we saw each other, but we saw ourselves. Helpless on a major holiday, and it terrified us. I’d like to tell you I did something noble, or offered her some kind words, but I can’t.

I ran. I immediately left the store, and was in a taxi in five minutes, heading to the airport. The only thing that made me change my mind, was the red light. When I saw it, it was as if I heard my Grandmother saying stop.

I paid the cab driver, who seemed confused too, but I didn’t have time to rescue him. So I walked back the two blocks it took to get there, and went right back to her. I stuck my hand out, and said “My name is Preston, I’m new here.”

I think I started to break through the haze that a survivor of retail Black Friday experiences has after a few years. She shook my hand, said her name was Liza. “What are you doing in this store?”

I admitted that I didn’t rightly know, and ask if she wanted dinner. “There’s a diner across the street. It’s probably bad food, but it’s in public, and since you don’t know me, you don’t have to worry.”

Which is the best way to cause someone to worry, by the way, but it turns out she was a brave soul. I found out much later, she also was an excellent shot, and was never without her firearm.

Dinner wasn’t bad, but it was the first Black Friday that I ever had Norwegian food. I found out I liked it, more importantly, I liked the conversation. We talked about her. We talked about me.

When I told her what I was doing in Pittsburgh, or at least what I thought I was doing, she looked at me. “You are crazy, but I wish I had your courage.” That’s when I laughed.

“It wasn’t courage, it was fear. I was too scared to go to work, so instead I went to Pittsburgh.” That’s when I looked at her really. She had brown hair, and hazel eyes, and I realized she was beautiful. Then I was even more terrified.

She shook her head. “I don’t mean the courage to get on the plane. You’re terrified, that’s completely obvious. I mean the fact that you were brave enough, not to get back on the plane. You took a chance that, being out on a limb, isn’t the worst place to be.”

We talked for about an hour more after that, and then she went home, and I went to the hotel. We promised to meet the next morning, back at the Norwegian place for breakfast. I was starting to realize why I was in Pittsburgh.

Coffee was good, but there was something different about our conversation. She was still friendly, and I was too, but it was as if a third person, that we were afraid to talk in front of, had sat down at our table.

The longer the conversation dragged on, the worse it got. I was desperate. I knew that if I didn’t do something fast, I would lose what might be a connection. So, sane wasn’t working, and crazy seemed to, so I decided to play what worked.

I stood up, and announced to everyone in the diner, that we had one mission at the moment. “Today folks, our goal, is to convince this miserable young woman, that there is no future in retail.”

Everyone looked at me like I was a moron, as I explained. “You see, she hates her job. She’s been at it, not as long as I was, she’s only been working there eight years. Mark my word, if you don’t get out before year ten, you may never get out.”

“You may get used to the odd questions about the difference in the colors of grays and browns. Why toothpicks should be wood instead of plastic, or why people fight over the last coffee maker in the store.”

“Don’t make the same mistake I did. Get out, before it takes running away to confuse you more than you’ve ever been before. Seek help, seek a career, find a hobby, work in insurance, but do something!!!!”

She laughed. It was with her hand over her face, and embarrassed completely, but she laughed. I still had a chance, she had decided that crazy was, not necessarily cute, but entertaining.

Liza stood up, paid the check, and motioned for me to follow. “Where are we going?” She laughed again. “You’re going to find me a job. If you want me to quit this one, give me a reason to get out of the wonderful world of retail.”

I didn’t stop to figure out why she agreed, but I did stop to ask myself how, where, and who was going to hire her based on my asking. That’s when terror started to set in, again. This turkey had set his own oven timer, and I was feeling the heat.

Then I asked myself, what the difference was between a domestic gobbler, and his wild cousin. Besides the fact that one has a better chance of seeing a second Thanksgiving than the first. Of course the obvious answer took a second to register. The wild turkey can fly!

I decided that, since this was the wildest thing I had ever done, it was time to try stretching my wings. “So, some ground rules. Even if it’s only for a day, you have to interview for any job, which matches your work history and skills, that I decide on, and if hired, work there at least two days?”

“One and a half days, with an option to leave after lunch the second day. Agreed?” I nodded, then motioned for a taxi. She tried to ask where I was going. I just winked at her.

We ended up at the airport. I booked two tickets back home to Akron. She protested, but I reminded her that she agreed to at least interview. She looked at me funny, smiled, and got on the plane.

You’re thinking, none of this is logical, and I would have agreed then. It makes perfect sense to me now. It didn’t then, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t surfing in Waikiki, or exploring the African Rain Forest, but I was seeing something amazingly beautiful.

A less than total stranger eating potato chips and laughing at me. When we landed, I took Liza to the job I had picked out. In the taxi trip to the airport, I had realized something. No matter how good the job was that I picked, Liza seemed to be a rational, intelligent person. She would humor me for the agreed upon time, then go home to her life.

Our adventure would be nothing more than a Black Friday memory. I was determined to make it something else, a Thanksgiving classic. So that meant I had to find her the most miserable job in the world.

Something that would make her wish she had never went on this trip, never met me, and had never left Pittsburgh. I know, it seems counterintuitive, but it was the only thing that made sense.

The question on the taxi trip from the airport in Akron was, what could possibly be the worst job in the world for Liz. Once again, I turned to my Grandmother for inspiration, or at least a story she had told.

Fresh out of college, she was smart, young, with a business degree, and no money. She told me that the worst job in the world was working somewhere she couldn’t make a difference.

Things were starting to crystallize, that was why I hated working where I had for ten years. So off to Mr. Summers we went. I spoke to him alone first. He ranted and raved for about ten minutes, until he ran out of steam.

“You don’t show up, ON BLACK FRIDAY! Then that night, you call me up, wake me, quit your job, and now… You walk back in here asking me to hire this girl for a couple of days. Answer me one question, why should I?”

I’m not sure what he expected, timidity or anger, but he got neither. I was calm, direct, and pleasant. I stood straight up, and looked him square in the eyes.

“Ten years of faithful, hard working, dependable experience. Of working the days nobody else wanted to work, trading days for those who had families, and hoping for my chance one day at one. Mr. Summers, this is my chance, and you are going to help me.”

He put her to work in the department I chose, electronics. I kissed her cheek, which neither of us expected, told her I’d see her at seven when her shift ended, and went to work. Grandmother was my first stop. As always, she smiled and offered to help, and I took her up on it.

I needed this to go well, and I needed it to be just like Thanksgiving, but as different from it, as it possibly could be. I was going to cram a whole year into a day and a half, and it had to work out right.

After a long day of doing everything, she’d be tired, hungry, and angry. Liza had helped pull stock, which the electronic department has to do when it’s slow. She had answered the same questions a thousand times, and any other miserable thing Mr. Summers could thing of.

If I had worked it right, she would almost want to hit me when she saw me. She would also expect dinner, and for me to try to make it a big evening. I had to give her a facsimile of it, but it couldn’t follow the pattern.

So instead of a tux and flowers, I showed up in overalls and carrying a stuffed turkey, the plush kind. I had what appeared to be dirt on my face, and looked like a crazy man.

“How was your day?” As predicted, she punched me in the arm. I handed her the turkey. She laughed, said she was going to get even, and followed me to the exit.

Instead of a taxi, or my car, I picked her up in a pickup truck. I had rented it for the evening. It was nice, top of the line, but it wasn’t a limo, or anything she had figured I would try.

When we got in the truck, she sighed. “I can’t stand it.” She took a handkerchief from her purse, yes, she carries one, and wiped my face. It was then she discovered that what she had thought was dirt, wasn’t. “This smells like nutmeg.”

I smiled, handed her a bag of sweet potato and kale chips, and headed to dinner. It took about twenty minutes, but it was worth it. Even I was impressed, but you can always count on Grandma.

The barn was old, clean, and covered in lights, and there was a table with two chairs. Grandmother even had violin music start when we sat down. I thought it was a little much, but apparently Grandmother had researched Liza.

It turns out she plays the violin, and pretty well. The waiter was dressed as plain as I was, though he wore it better. The first course, potato soup, the second, a turkey soufflé, and for desert, pumpkin tarts. It was a non-Thanksgiving dinner.

We laughed, and she told me all about her day. “Why are you doing this?” I took her by the hand, strolled to the field, and pointed to the stars.

“Do you see that, isn’t it beautiful? I’ve dreamed of starry skies, a beautiful woman, and the possibility of a life, most of mine. It took me a while to find it, and now I’m trying everything I can to keep it.”

She leaned her head on my shoulder and we walked on. “What does that have to do with putting me through the ringer, in the worst job possible? What happened to making the person you, care about, happy instead of miserable? I know you’re new at this, but …”

I interrupted. “If I had chosen an easy job, you would have gotten back on the plane as soon as it was over. I had to keep you guessing. This way you might want to stay once a day and a half is over.”

“Maybe give this turkey a way out, and pardon him for the rest of his life? As he annoyed you day in and day out, til we’re old and gray. What do you say?”

She didn’t, say that is. No words, she only walked back to the truck, and drove away. I had left the keys in the truck, and she had left. At first I laughed, then I started to worry. Ten minutes went by, then an hour.

I gave up, called for a car to take me home. I got a text, “I’m at your Grandmother’s. I’m safe, see you in the morning.” I had given her Grandmother’s number before I left her with Mr. Summers. I went home, but I didn’t sleep.

The next morning, a knock on the door, and a basket of muffins outside it with a note. “You are not a turkey. See you at the airport at noon.”

I sighed, showered, and went to the store. She wasn’t there. Mr. Summers said that he hadn’t seen her. I had about an hour and a half until time to go to the airport. So I went to the one place that made sense, Grandmother’s house.

Only she wasn’t there either. I wandered around, until it was time to say goodbye. She was there at the terminal gate, bags packed, holding the ticket in her hand.

“I guess you decided one day was enough?” I asked, trying to hide my disappointment. That’s when I heard a voice from behind me. “My friend does not break her promises. I hired a personal shopper for the day. We really must stop calling Mr. Summers while he’s asleep.”

I looked from one to the other. “Then why all of this?” Liza held my hand. “Three things. One, you never put me through anything like yesterday ever again. Two, we have a plane to catch. Three, we are never working retail again.”

Grandmother kissed me. “She may not call you that, but I will. Go on my little stuffed turkey, fly over Pittsburgh.” She hugged us both, and we boarded the plane.

I had taken one chance that morning, although it seemed useless at the time. I put the gift I was saving for her retirement party at noon. Somewhere over Pittsburgh, I proposed, and she said yes.

The last year was incredible. We got married that afternoon, and bought the little Norwegian dinner across from her old job. That was last year, this Thanksgiving, we took a few days off, and closed the diner for the week. This year, we’re going to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.

PruittWrites November And December

In the next two months a lot is happening at and on our Amazon page. In November, we’ll be sharing the free Thanksgiving story “A Turkey Flew Over Pittsburgh” as a side dish to your holiday. As well as “Burnt Sweet Potato Pie”.

For Christmas in December, they’re going to be several gifts from us to you. Including “The Christmas Guitar”, “Christmas In Triage “, and “Christmas LEDs”. Along with various Christmas Watercolors and iPaintings.

In conjunction with our Amazon release of our Bible Study, The Native in paperback and eBook, we’ll be sharing excerpts from the book. This is a very special book to us, both the content and the paintings. Each was specifically created for the book, in Watercolor, iPaintings, and Acrylic.

Along with it, every PruittWrites Christmas story from the past four years is available in paperback in PruittWrites Snow Days. There are also eBook versions of L.O.C. And Key, Scarfed, and Captain Christmas. There are also the children’s picture books, Jesus Is Born, and The Christmas Lion.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are so very special to us, we want to share our gifts with you this holiday season. Whether it’s while you’re roasting the turkey, or baking Christmas cookies, we hope you’ll take time to enjoy what PruittWrites.

Happy Birthday Pastor

Song of Songs 1:8

8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

Today our Pastor and my best friend celebrates his birthday. Pastor Denny Livingston is a man who I love, cherish, admire, respect, am honored to follow, and love being around. He has taught me so many things, more than I could put into words.

I mentioned the verse above to illustrate this. You see, it basically says, if there’s something you don’t know, follow the footsteps of the flock, and bring up your children by the shepherd’s tents. First, the only footprints in a flock are the Shepherd’s, the rest are hoof prints. Second, if you bring up your family near the life of the Shepherd, you know they’re going to turn out right.

Pastor has been my friend, even longer than he has been my Pastor. He’s always been a mentor, a big brother, and an inspiration to me. For several years now, he has also been my Pastor.

Just a quick word here, no matter the relationship, even if there is a blood connection between two individuals, the office of Pastor must be respected. They have been called by God to watch for your soul. That relationship supersedes best friends, cousins, or father and child.

At the best, and worst stages of my life, He has been there for me. I trust him with my life, my soul, and my family’s future. When I was lonely he listened to me. He’s the one that caused me to talk to the woman I love.

The night I proposed, he was there. All the nights that led up to it, he helped me not to mess it up. He is also the one who married us, and made it personal, and special.

Pastor and Sis, Sister Alonna Livingston, have been an incredible example to us in our marriage. They’ve taught us what matters, showed us as they lived it, and loved us as we learned. They’ve also brought up wonderful children of their own that love God, each other, and are amazing, talented people.

Finally, he understands me, and that’s no easy task. He knows every emotion in my face, because he’s waked with me through them. The footprints of a Shepherd always lead higher, and I’m honored that he allows me to follow.

About that, the Apostle Paul said, “Follow us, as we follow The Lord.” Pastor always makes it plain that, while called to lead, we are all following Jesus together. I’ve spent my life in the Study of heroes, and I’m honored to call my hero, Pastor, Friend, and Family!

Memories Of September 11

I remember the faces walking through the dust. I remember those who risked everything to go in to save others. I remember New York, Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania. I remember America, standing together, holding each other, unified, praying while the tears fell.

Today is many years past, but those memories are still with us. We will not forget the heroic sight of those who risked death to search for any signs of life. Or those on the Pennsylvania flight that sacrificed their lives so others would be spared.

I remember two girders forming a cross in the rubble. I remember a leader, heroes, and a megaphone. I remember Old Glory being lifted high on their very sight they tried to silence her. I remember September 11. May we all remember, and never forget that we are one country, under God, indivisible, with life, and liberty, for all.

The Rest Of The Way

Today Ashley and I celebrate 8 years of being married. Anniversaries give a number to something that's so amazing it's hard to measure. We can't tell you the tears we've cried together, the laughs at things no one but her understands, the adventures and misadventures we've shared.

Everyone looks up the things that represent your anniversary, and we're no different. They are bronze, pottery, the jewel tourmaline, cotton, and linen.

Bronze because it was forged by the mixture of copper and tin, tried by fire, and made stronger by being together. Pottery because it can begin as a lump of clay, and transformed into a beautiful vessel to hold precious things. Tourmaline is a jewel that ranges almost every color, from black to blue, to yellow, and a striped green and pink, known as watermelon.

The cotton and linen interest me both. Possibly because of being a Minister, l think of souls redeemed, mistakes forgiven, and new life created. Cotton can either shrink or stretch. When it shrinks, it can be because of mistreatment in the maintenance of it. When it stretches, it is forgiving of an extra pound or two.

Marriage is like that. Strong when you stand together. Beautiful when shaped, and given the necessary attention. Colorful, reflective of both your dreams. Shrinking when there's a lack of communication, but expanding when you're open with each other.

Next to Salvation, it's the greatest event in my life. I love her dearly, and I couldn't imagine life without her. I also can't tell you what tomorrow holds, but I know this. The same One who joined us as one, will keep us that way, the rest of the way!

The Petition Of Freedom

“Each died for a cause he considered more important than his own life.” – President Reagan

Among the meanings of the word memorial is a statement of facts, especially as the basis of a petition. The men and women who gave their lives for our country wrote such a petition. One that has been added to by generations of America’s children.

The preamble was written by men in colonial cloth, casting off the tyranny of another country. Men in 1812 added to the body of it. As did men of Lincoln’s time. From the charge up San Juan hill to Pearl Harbor, sacrifice added to it’s pages.  

Following the example of just a few years earlier, soldiers carried its message to Korea, and then Vietnam. In my generation, it was the sands of Kuwait, Iran, and Afghanistan. An yes, a tragic day in New York City, a Pennsylvania field, and Arlington.

No matter where the location, brave lives and noble sacrifice, gave body to this petition. It’s message is simply this. Freedom is not only worth the fight yesterday, it is worth the cost of today’s battle. An to the future, it proclaims what one generation began, the next will hold fast.

The letters of this petition are made up of many colors. Red comes to mind first, not only for the blood that these gave, but for the passion in which they gave it. Blue for the noble courage it takes to risk all for what is right. White for the purity of the cause of freedom. It is noble, strong, and good.  

Then the shades of a melting pot of Americans. All peoples, from the different pigmentation of our skins, which must never be a barrier, to our backgrounds, we are one people. No matter where we came from. The unsung song of those who stood on the battlefield arm and arm tells us, Freedom and Equality are one and the same.

Add to that, the colors of hope, commitment, and responsibility. Hope that all Americans will hold tightly what these petitioners are requesting. Commitment to the message that it’s all of our duty to stand for freedom. An the responsibility to honor those who wrote such a petition. Signing our name at the bottom, not as the authors of freedom, but the supporters of it.

The Native Rex

Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm was written over the cross. We know it as Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews, and we know that it means so much more than a monarch of a single people. What fascinated me, was the use of the word Rex, an especially Roman word.

Before there were emperors in Rome, there were kings, known by the title Rex. Yes it’s Latin for king, but it’s a title specifically identified with Rome. To me, it reflects the very poignant fact that, before Rome was, before God walked in flesh, He spoke worlds into existence, and He continues long after Rome is just a memory.

The I Am, who said He would walk in flesh to die for me, also said He would get back up in three days, and He did just that. We rejoice at the cross, not that He suffered, but that even in His grief, He was in control. Only Christ could turn a place of heartache and agony, into a command center.

For if you read the words from the cross, the soldiers react when He speaks, the people are astonished at the events of the weather, because of His death. Nature itself shakes in grief, because her King, Her Rex Eternal, had paid a miraculous price for man’s salvation, and it was finished, but He wasn’t!

Just as the cross recognized who was on it in its title, written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. We know Him as the King of Kings, and The Lord of Lords, Savior to every race, nation, and culture. We rejoice today, because we also know something the Romans learned over 2,000 years ago.

The Champion ripped asunder the transgressions of mankind, the thing that separated God from His creation, and eliminated every barrier to eternity. The last one being death itself, for even it bowed it’s knee to the King Of Eternity, The Lord Jesus!