Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home. I also have two men, in particular, who fit that category now. Once I had only my Daddy. Now, this year, I also honor my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination…radiation – my father, Agent Orange – Kenneth. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly. I know I will see Kenneth in Heaven and I pray so for my Daddy.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: This is the first Memorial Day without Kenneth. He was close to death last May. He died June 7th. He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, since defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. God provided such a blessing to my life. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and often, now. It is connected with radiation poisoning. PLUS…he was a great Daddy! I still miss him!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (This was taken on a Memorial Day weekend as you can see by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a fine and fun mother too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. Thank You. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my lose as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

Memorial Day – 2015

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Memorial Day can be a gathering of family for a barbeque or for a day at the beach.  It is remembered as a day off from work or a reminder that we will only have a four-day workweek.

But Memorial Day is far more than that:

  • It is a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
  • It is a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
  • It is a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country.  Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
  • It is a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!  

May we stand proud for the United States of America whether we believe in all that is going on in the country today or not.  This is our country.  We must stand proud of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem.  As we stand with our hand over our heart, be proud because these men and women in uniform are standing in obedience to the orders they receive from their commanders.  They are doing this for us, in our name, for we are citizens of the USA.

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You and I are to stand in obedience to God Who is our Commander in Chief, our Stronghold, our Refuge, our Protector.  His Son shed His Blood for us…His red blood…in obedience to His Father Who is our Father.

Father God, may we look to You for all of Your commands, Your will,  for our lives each day.  May we honor those who stand for this country, who die for this country.  Please care for them as they fight or assist in war-torn countries, or work in places that have been ravaged by natural disasters and have been sent to help.  We lift up the many families who have lost loved ones in these many battles this country has been involved in.  We lift up those families who have someone in uniform right now and are fighting, protecting, assisting, or are preparing to go into a place that could be dangerous in one way or another.   Please guard them with your legions of angels.  We pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.  Psalm 91:11


F
lags In

“This is a mission unique to members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which has the distinction of being the oldest active unit in the United States Army dating back to 1784. The Old Guard is the Army’s ceremonial unit serving as honor guard to the President of the United States, and performing burial services for fallen service members, veterans and their family members at Arlington Cemetery.”  Arlington Cemetery

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Both of my parents are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

There is a flag on their grave this very day and I remember.

I am honored to remember.

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I am married to a Vietnam Veteran and am honored to have my hand in his.

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I do not forget.

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Photo of Young boy saluting flag: http://365atlanta.com/2010/11/11/286-a-simple-thing-to-do-thank-a-veteran-every-day-not-just-on-veterans-day/

Flags In photo: http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2015_21/1038161/pc-150522-arlington-flags-mn-0430_f195bba7ed10dc1c882e0c9d58494cc9.nbcnews-ux-1360-900.jpg

My Daddy

Scan 7
My Daddy…

the love of my mother’s life

kind

fun

handsome

a farm boy raised in Kansas

intelligent

loving

married at age 28

completed medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago in 1941

became a Navy doctor

died too young

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So many times I have written of my mother on Mother’s Day, or about things that she and I were doing or going through together, or going to Hooks baseball games.  Mama was a huge part of my life for all of my then 65 years until she died January, 2013.  Now that she is gone from this earthly home, it suddenly occurred to me that I have not written a Father’s Day post since I began this blog in 2009.  Just never thought about it.  I honor my dad on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day, but not on Father’s Day.  So it is about time!

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

Scan 3
The young one is Daddy in 1915-16 with his older brother.

Daddy was born in 1913 in Kansas to Scotch, Irish, and English parents.  My grandparents were not the immigrants but they were part of the generation that moved westward from Pennsylvania.  Farmers, Presbyterians, even a circuit rider minister, were part of the heritage which fell upon my father.

Scan 4
Daddy is the one furthest to the right, barefoot, hands over face, playing in the mud.

My grandfather, a man I never met, became a physician and surgeon, later serving as Director of the Kansas State Board of Health.  My father stepped into his father’s shoes to become a doctor as well.  He was almost finished with medical school when WWII broke out for the United States.  He joined the Navy between 12/7/1941 (Pearl Harbor) and 12/19/1941 (graduation) to become a Navy doctor.

Scan 5
At Northwestern University, late 1930s until 12/1941 when he graduated.

While he was attending Northwestern University Medical School he met my mother.  They fell head over heels in love and married on his graduation day.

Wedding Day
Wedding Day December, 1941

They moved to California to spend a year at the San Diego Naval Hospital-Balboa Park.  Daddy needed to serve as an intern before they sent him to the Pacific Theater during World War II to be a surgeon, physician, and infectious disease control officer.  He treated the many wounded soldiers as the Allied Forces leapfrogged or islandhopped towards Japan.  Thankfully, he made it home.  And he was home at last to be with his one year bride before war called him away for almost two.  Within three years of his return, I was born, their firstborn.

I was 2 months old. Do you think these parents were happy?
I was 2 months old. Do you think these parents were happy?

To complete his medical training as a resident, my parents were stationed back at San Diego.  During the three years there, two of their three girls were born.  They both loved us dearly.

Scan 2
1953

Even before his residency was completed, the Navy called him to be part of the post-war Manhattan Project.  He was trained at the same places (Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada, Berkeley, etc.) that the original Manhattan Project people were trained and did all the research for the Atomic bomb.  He was called to be a Radiological Safety Officer for the 1946 Bikini/Operation Crossroads tests.  He went aboard the ships that had had the bombs exploded over and then test for radiation.  The masks were hot and the Geiger Counters did not work so well.  He returned to Eniwetok Island for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  He later became Chief of Medicine of a Navy hospital in California.  His rank increased to a Captain.  He loved the Navy.

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As most, if not all, mothers experience, when the father arrives home from work, no matter how worn out he may be, Mommy handed this newborn to Daddy while she prepared dinner, and gave herself sort of a break.

Scan 8

I love this picture!!!!  Look above his head!  His file folder is on the back of the couch.  He barely had time to toss it before I was tossed into his arms, a bottle for any free hand that he might have!!  He did have time to take off his tie and unbutton the top button, I see!

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Remembering my father is sweet for me.  I lost him when I was twelve to a cancer that is often connected to radiation in 1960.  I was close to Daddy.  He helped me with my homework at the dining room table all my school days.  I especially recall his help with junior high math and sentence diagramming.  He wanted me to try playing a musical instrument and convinced me to start with the clarinet.  He played with us, taught us to work with wood in his workshop making a balsa wood tugboat to float in the bathtub.  He was fun and silly.  He was a dad.  He took zillions of pictures of his family.  He was caring and loving to us each and all.

Daddy, whenever you went away on those 4-6 weeks tours with the Secretary of the Navy and the Surgeon General during your last duty station in Washington, D.C., you would say to me, “Take care of your mother and sisters for me while I am away, okay?”  I took that responsibility seriously.  Then one day, you did not return.  I was not sure just what to do.  I was one month away from turning thirteen.  I was a girl.  I wanted you back.  I loved you so.  I miss you, Daddy. 

Scan 16

I can remember your arms around me, Daddy.  I can still feel your love flowing into my heart, see your smile, and sense your kisses.  You were the best Daddy in the world for me.  I am so glad you were the Daddy for me.  I still miss you though.  

Thank You, Abba Father, for blessing me with this man for my father.  I learned love, patience, kindness, and gentleness, silliness, and more love from him.  You truly gave me a gift.  I wish it had lasted longer, LORD.  One day, I may understand why You took him so early in his life and in mine too.  Until then, though, I will remember what I can about him, and know that You will help me to remember my Daddy.  In Christ’s Name, I pray.  Amen.

 

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12


With love always, Daddy, and Mama too, ~ linda

Long Time Passing

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 “All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…

Isaiah 40:6b-8a

Arlington+Cemetery+Decorated+250+000+Flags+FloG7f1oqSAl

September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence and now connected with radiation poisoning.

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Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  January 30, 2013, Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery (just this past Sept. 9, 2013) with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

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My mother was a hero too.  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy in food and other supplies. She became a Gold Star Widow as we became Gold Star children.

     “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Yes.  That was me…still is.

My husband served in the Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, an Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years.
They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

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Just prior to Memorial Day weekend, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, “Flags-In”… in memory and honor of these heroes.

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We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song. 

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A poem from WWI, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918, Canadian Army:

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

PoppySunset

When will we ever learn?  When will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

 

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The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:5-8

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One hundred fifty years ago in May 1864, the first military burials took place at Arlington National Cemetery, one month prior to its establishment as a national cemetery. The burials took place in the oldest section of the cemetery – section 27. 

Commemoration of this 150th anniversary as a national cemetery began this past week, May 20, 2014, with an Army wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William H. Christman, the first military burial at Arlington.
Pvt. William Henry Christman, 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first military service man interred in Arlington.
Pvt. William H. McKinney, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was the first to have family present at funeral.
Pvt. William Reeves, 76th New York Infantry, was the first draftee interred.
Pvt. William Blatt, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, was the first battle casualty interred.
Privates Christman, McKinney and Reeves were interred May 13, 1864. Pvt. Blatt was interred May 14, 1864.

 

I am still…

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Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

Memorial Day Flags @ Arlington National Cemetery: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/FdngYNPGdDt/Arlington+Cemetery+Decorated+250+000+Flags/FloG7f1oqSA

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, no credit given.

In Flanders Field: the story behind the poem @ http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

Painting of Poppies between crosses in Flanders Field: unknown

Poppies @ Sunset:  http://viewedfromanotherangle.blogspot.com/2012/07/in-flanders-fields-poppies-grow-by-john_25.html

Last photo: Arlington National Cemetery/Cherry Blossoms dropping upon the graves http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cherry+blossoms+dc&view=detail&id=2C08990B96757DE3E5C9DB4AF4A29A02FFD83B3F&first=181&FORM=IDFRIR

Home from Arlington National Cemetery

Home from five days in Washington, D.C. to lay my Mama’s ashes to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with her dear husband of almost twenty years, our Daddy, who died fifty-three years ago.  It was her wish to be buried there with him.  It was an honor, not only to have her buried there, but to receive a spouse’s military honors in burial.

Yes, it was hard, sad, but wonderful all at the same time.

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Our small family was there from Hawaii, California, Texas.  The 98 year old remains were laid to rest at last and at the same time we are blessed with the beauty and vibrancy of a 16 month old, the only great grandchild of our mother.  Mama would have just adored her.  Life continues and we move forward.

We had to wait over seven months to fulfill Mama’s wishes to be buried in Arlington, but closure can truly begin even though we have been grieving for many months.

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LORD, we thank You for blessing us with such a fine service, a lovely day, and for family.  Thank You for bringing us together and giving us special times to reminisce, reflect, and digest all that has gone before.  May the honor that was bestowed upon our parents at Arlington National Cemetery remind us of the qualities that made them the parents they were to us.  I thank You that one of my sisters was able to come, to spend time, just the two of us, together a couple of the evenings, a day journey to Mount Vernon and Alexandria, and especially at the cemetery our last day when we cried, laughed, cried some more, and reminded each other what family is all about.  And I am so very grateful for the caring staff at Arlington.  We have truly been blessed.  Thank You for prayers lifted high from so many people, even women I have never met person-to-person, yet they are friends.  LORD, You kept us all safe and brought us to and from nestled in Your arms.  I pray that the words spoken by the Navy Chaplain will touch each one there, giving pause for reflection upon those words which are Your Words.  You used him, LORD, to bring Your message to us, possibly to some who needed to hear it.  Praising You with all that I have to praise!  I also thank You, LORD, for bringing this new sweet life, this little child, into our family who is truly a joy.  May the peace that prevailed on that day continue to flow all around us in these days and months to come.  I love You, LORD.  I pray in the Mighty Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Like a Weaned Child …

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A Song of Ascents, of David. 
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; 
Nor do I involve myself in great matters, 
Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; 
Like a weaned child rests against his mother, 
My soul is like a weaned child within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD 
From this time forth and forever.  

Psalm 131

Where Am I?

Where Am I?

Father, as I think about my Mama and find my heart and soul are missing her, You remind me of the beauty that rests in me … from You, Your gift to me.  Through my relationship with You, I have come to know that I am Yours and You are my LORD.  You gave me to my Mama and Daddy many years ago.  In these moments of feeling lost because I miss them both, You are with me.  You are here, right here.  Guide me through these times. I do not feel that my “soul is like a weaned child within me.”   I do not feel, as David did, that “I have composed and quieted my soul.”  I need You, Abba Father.  I need You to compose me and quiet me, Father.  I nestle into You as these young swans do into their parent.  You are my Comfort and my Hope.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

Photo:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/

two others photos from my personal/family collection