Flag Day

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Every since September ll, I have become very patriotic and find myself getting emotional whenever I hear our National Anthem.  From the beginning of our nation until this very day, men and women have died to give us the freedoms that our flag stands for.

It so saddens, disheartens, and troubles me, when I see so many disrespect our flag, country, its leaders, and our values.  God has blessed us so much.  This is a great country and we should be grateful for all we have.

I saw a post on Facebook with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence (who was gracious enough to visit our small country church on his recent visit to Montana) and others standing in a semi-circle praying.  It gives me hope to see our leaders seeking guidance from God.  I am hopeful we will again be “one nation, under God.”

What is Flag Day?  On June 14, 1777, a resolution of the 2nd Continental Congress called for an official United States flag.

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson stated “I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community, the 14th day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises.”

It wasn’t until 1949 that President Harry Truman signed the permanent observance of Flag Day into law.

In my observance of Flag Day, I’d like to share a poem I wrote several years ago.

Old Glory

Thirteen stripes unfurl before me,

thirteen colonies for which they stand,

fought to give us independence,

and thus founded this great land

Red is for her valor,

white for hope and purity.

Blue is for God’s heaven

justice, truth, sincerity.

The star for aspirations,

one for each and every state,

join together as a union,

yet can govern their own fate.

Men have died to give me freedom.

Let me hold their memory high.

Let me feel their pride and honor

every time Old Glory flies!

Sheryl Craig Russell

 

Please feel free to share this post if you are as proud of our flag as I am!

 

Reply to “An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham , from a small church pastor”

There is a post circulating on Facebook titled, “An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a ‘small church’ pastor.”  It has disturbed me from the first time I read it.  I’ve tried to ignore it, but it has irritated my conscience like a sticker in my foot.  You will probably have to read his post before this one makes much sense.

Although I am…this blog post is not intended to praise or defend Rev. Graham.  I am just tired of people knocking Christianity.  And when one church pastor tries to stir up anger against another pastor who is doing so much for human suffering not to mention winning souls for Christ…well frankly, it upsets me!

This pastor who says, “Feel free to call me Peter” (perhaps because he tries to quote the Apostle Peter) criticizes Rev Graham for being a mega-church pastor and for touring America to encourage Christians to pray and to stand up for our religious freedoms.

He seems to be supportive of same-sex marriages and accuses Franklin Graham of preaching hate for supporting Christians who refuse to perform services for them that go against their religious beliefs.  “Peter” says that when we meet Jesus,  he will not ask us what our sexual orientation is, how many times we have been divorced, or who we voted for; only if we have done good deeds for others.

This pastor does not preach God’s word.  The Bible tells us that our good deeds will not get us to heaven, lest any should boast.  The only thing that will get us to heaven is if we repent of our sins, and follow Jesus.

God tells us very plainly that homosexuality is a sin.  So is adultery and fornication.  He tells us that any who are living in sexual sin will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  To preach this is not hate.  It is love.  It is to warn us that we are living a lifestyle unacceptable to God so that we may change.

The example “Peter” uses about the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage is stupid.  She did not refuse to feed the hungry.  They did not want a wedding cake because they needed food.  They wanted it to celebrate a lifestyle that is against Christian beliefs.  The woman who owned the bakery actually employed this gay man.  She said she had nothing against him, and he was a good employee.  She did not refuse to serve him because he was gay.  She refused to bake a cake that celebrated something God called a sin.

I, as a Christian, am tired of people calling me hateful if I don’t accept the gay lifestyle and call it normal.   People are free to choose however they want to live, as long as it does not cause harm to any one else.  I have worked with gay people.  There are some I call friends.  There are also people who have cheated on their spouses that I call friends.  That doesn’t mean I hate them or am prejudiced against them because I believe their infidelity is wrong; a sin.  And I don’t judge them.  That is God’s job.  But I can discern between right and wrong.  There is a difference.  I am not going to call them out on their sin (I’ve enough of my own), but I am also not going to pat my friend on the back who just cheated on their spouse and tell them “way to go!”

And as far as persecution in this country not being real?  This is not physical persecution.  It is verbal, and financial persecution, and it is real!  If we stand by and do nothing, it will escalate to physical persecution in the same way that verbal abuse and control of what you say, or do in a domestic situation, often leads to physical abuse.  And there is religious physical persecution happening in our country.  It is called  radical Islam.

As a nation we are losing our Christian freedoms every day.  Read the paper.  No mention of God in the classroom or even on some school grounds. People wanting to take In God We Trust off our money and national monuments. No Christmas songs can be sung at school “Christmas” programs.  Some are not even allowing their programs to be called Christmas programs.  Winter program, now that is acceptable.  That is what I call no common sense political correctness!

If you own a business, they are trying to make you offer birth control options that end life, to your employees.  Company’s are demanding their employees to say Happy Holidays to their customers instead of Merry Christmas!  They are afraid of offending the atheists, or the muslim, but not afraid of offending the God who created us?

To Peter’s comments about President Trump I will say only a few things.  I don’t approve of some of the things he has said.  I am not defending them.  I also do not believe Franklin Graham has ever condoned them, nor do I believe God condones them.  However King David was an adulterer and a murderer.  Yet God called him the apple of His eye.  Why? Because of his sinful deeds?  NO!  Because he had a repentant heart and turned back to God.  Has Donald Trump turned back to God?  I don’t know.  Only God knows our hearts.

However Peter, God tells us in Romans 13:1 that “The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Not only did he tell Rev. Graham that, but he has told me and you that also.

To your remarks about following our nations’ laws even if they are against God’s ways I give you Luke 20:25 “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s.  The bible is full of examples of his people standing up to the government when asked to do something not in accordance with God’s way.

You say Rev. Graham is preaching hate.  I’ve listened to him a lot and I’ve never heard anything that remotely comes close to hate.  He preaches God’s word.  He ends every sermon or post that I’ve heard or read with something similar to ” There is no sin you have committed that God can not forgive.  Repent, from your sin and follow Jesus.”

You sound as if you are envious because he has a mega-church, and you have a small church.  You say you can not fill an auditorium and don’t have a 100 voice choir. You insinuate that is somehow bad or showing off.  If you will read back in the old testament, God’s people had a huge worship service.  It was to honor God.  If you don’t have that in your small church, I’m sure God will understand.  He might not understand you putting down others who can give him that honor.

You ask Franklin if he has ever heard of Peter.  Did you know that in the book of acts, Peter spoke to the crowd gathered and added 3000 people to the church that one day?  Kinda sounds like he had the start of a mega church.

I have only attended small churches, because I have always lived in small rural areas. They  teach God’s word.  They teach about love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  They also preach about sin and the judgement that follows it.  They teach about the sacrifice Jesus made on a cross, that will cleanse us of that sin, if we repent and give our lives to him.

I have no doubt that our small church would welcome Rev Franklin Graham with open arms and would be honored to have him share the gospel with us.

 

 

 

 

Down Memory Lane…The Big House

 

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Jim & Harriett Craig, Fairfield, ID

 

This was our “Big House” that we moved into on the Willow Creek Ranch in Fairfield, ID.  I don’t think it was actually that big in square footage.  I think it only had two bedrooms because Pat and I shared a bedroom.  However it was big to us.  Everett Coates, who owned the ranch, lived to the right of us.  You can see the trees in the background that we called our tree houses that I spoke of in my blog post, The Coates Family.

Back near that fence line we had a large garden.  In the winter Dad would flood it and we had an ice skating pond on it.  He taught my sister and I to skate.  We never were very graceful, but we had so much fun.   Dad tried to teach Mom to skate, but she refused.  She didn’t want anyone watching her as she learned.

However she must have really wanted to learn and join the family fun, because she would practice by herself, when we were in school, and Dad was at work.  He came home one day for lunch and found Mom lying on the skating pond, with a broken arm!

Skating turned out to be a generational curse for our family.  Years later when we took our 4-H kids to a roller skating party, I fell and broke my arm.  A few years down the road from that, my daughter, in college, tried roller blading, and fell and broke her arm.

You can see part of the clothes line to the right of Mom and Dad.  Some of my best memories of Mom were helping hang clothes on the line.  I loved the smell of line fresh clothes and sheets.  Mom always seemed to make chores, seem more like fun.  She would laugh with us and encourage us, and make it more like a game.  I think that is why clothes lines always give me such a warm, homey feeling.

In the winter, Mom had a wooden clothes rack that she hung our clothes on in front of the wood stove.  I did that a few times in my adult life when the power went out, but back then, it was an everyday thing.

Inside this house are memories of our family sitting around the card table.  It was here they taught us to play pinoccle.  Mom and Dad always enjoyed playing cards of some kind.  Even now at age ninety, Dad enjoys a good game of cards!

It was also in this house that I first remember getting tonsilitis.  That. is something I battled many times through out my life.  Back then, we weren’t given antibiotics for it.  A  bout of tonsilitis usually lasted a very long two weeks.  I remember Mom’s loving bedside care.  I remember her sitting up with me, wiping my forehead with a cold rag, giving me salt water to gargle with, and drinking hot water and lemon juice.  Her voice always quiet, calming, reassuring, and full of love.

In the back of this house, off to the side, was an apartment of some kind.  It may have been used as a bunk house at one time, I don’t know.  What I do remember is that it was a terrific play house for us.  Mom would give us all her empty grocery containers.  We had a little play store in there.  We had baking spices of every kind, baking powder, cocoa, Log Cabin syrup, and anything else that we could salvage the container.

We spent many hours playing store.  Our imaginations were used every day and were our best friends!

What a great place to be a kid!  I wish all kids could live the life we did!

Down Memory Lane…The Little House

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Me in front of the little house on Willow Creek Ranch, Fairfield ID

The little house at Willow Creek.  It floods my heart with warmth.  The house in this picture looks a little small, and frankly a little rough.  But it is full of the richest memories!  The walls inside were paneled with real wood.  I remember as a child, admiring their beauty, especially the knot holes.  I loved the knot holes.  They gave such rustic character.

I can see my sister, Pat, and I sitting in the living room waiting for Mom to get through with the latest McCall’s magazine.  Inside that magazine was a treat better than any treat you could get now-a-days in a McDonald’s kid’s lunch. Betsy McCall was inside the center fold of every magazine.  She was a paper doll, complete with a new wardrobe for that month.  We would cut her and her outfits out and play with her.  We tried on every outfit.  When the excitement wore off, we would put her in our shoebox with our other Betsies.  When days were boring, she would come out again to entertain us.

I can also remember sitting and looking through Sears, and Penney’s catalogues for what seemed like hours, looking for clothes we wanted for school or Christmas, and of course toys.

That front step was a favorite place to perch on a hot afternoon and drink a glass of Coolaid.  Our favorite childhood dog, Duke, would sit there with us.

In the yard in the back of that house was what I remember as a coal shed.  It had a low roof on it.  Pat and I would make mud pies in the summer.  We would place them on the roof to dry.  We also usually had the sidewalk lined with them.  What fun we had.  It was a bakery for any kid to envy!

Summer evenings would find us playing Annie,Annie, over with the neighbor kids ’til dark.  We would have teams on each side of the house.  We would yell Annie, Annie, over, and throw a ball over the roof.  They would catch it and do the same thing back.  Our dog Duke would play with us.  He would be with us when we threw the ball, and then run to the other side of the house to cheer them on!  He was more fun to watch than actually playing the game.

Down aways from the left side of that house, was Willow Creek.  I am assuming it was called Willow Creek, because it was lined with willows.  We would gather dead willows and make tepees out of them.  We had an entire village along the creek.  We thought they looked very cool, and they kept us out of  Mom’s hair for hours at a time!

Yes, so many good memories associated with that house.  But the most precious is the memory of love that was shared with the people who lived inside of it.  My mom, my dad, my sister….you are the best memories!

Mother’s Day With The Vice President

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Vice President Mike Pence at Nye Community Church

Today is Mother’s Day.  We went up to Nye, Montana to attend  their little country church, as we sometimes do.  As we were pulling into one end of their circular driveway, lo and behold, the Motorcade with Vice President Pence, was pulling into the opposite end!

What a thrill!  Not a sight you see every day!  Secret Service agents in black jackets, some with bullet proof vests, helicopter overhead, being “wanded” before entering church, and seeing the Vice President of the United States of America and his wife, sitting just a few pews away from us!  Unbelievable!

You have to understand.  Nye is not really even a town.  It is a small rural ranching community up in the mountains where we used to live.

It was a very special and humbling day.  I feel so honored.  I was able to worship the Lord Jesus with our Vice President.  He was a very quiet and polite man.  He was gracious enough to allow us to take pictures of him, and even posed for a picture with the entire congregation.

But what impressed me the most about him was that he was just an ordinary man.  Albeit an ordinary man with an extraordinary job!  He is a Christian who came to church to worship God, the same as I did.

Pastor Paul gave a wonderful sermon to honor Mothers.  He let us know what an important job we have; how important it is for us to impress upon our children and grandchildren the laws, love, and grace of Jesus.  This is something I hope to do a better job of from here on out.

The Vice President, his wife, and the Secret Service men and women with them, were all so friendly and gracious.  We were waving at them as they were pulling away from the church.  Mike Pence looked right at us and waved back.  I got a lump in my throat and found myself choking back tears.  The Vice President of the United States, was waving to me!

I  have for a long time been praying for our nation to turn back to God.  I have been asking God to draw our nation’s leaders near him, and to give them wisdom and guidance.  I’ve been asking God to give us leaders who believe in the Christian values and beliefs our nation was founded on.  After today, I know he has.

I thank God for bringing one of our leaders to our little community, to make my prayers for them so much more personal.  I will continue to pray for them. I will also pray for angels to surround them with protection.

Thank you Pastor Paul for a great service.  Thank you Michael Pence for making this one of the most memorable Mother’s Day that I will ever have.

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Leaving Nye Community Church

Down Memory Lane… The Coates Family

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Everett Coates Family – Fairfield, ID

Some of my best childhood memories were created on the Willow Creek Ranch at Fairfield, ID.  It was a wonderful place full of such good times.  We worked for the Everett Coates family.  I should say Dad worked for them.  We simply loved life there.  Their daughter, Linda, was a little older than my sister, Pat, and their son, David, was a little younger than me  We spent a lot of time together.

David and I had a whole little town we built out behind the shed in the dirt.  We used old Log Cabin syrup cans for the houses.  It didn’t come in plastic bottles like it does now.  Back then it came in tin cans shaped like a log cabin.  They had a chimney, and you could see the fire burning in the fireplace through the window.  We had dirt streets that we made to drive our trucks and cars on.  I have to say, it was pretty cool!

I remember once David and I found Pat and Linda giggling in our tree house.  It was a big old poplar tree.  We didn’t actually have a tree house built-in it, it just had these big natural spaces where the branches “branched out”.  It had a couple of stories in it, where there was enough room for us to sit in.

Pat and Linda were eating something that looked kinda like pudding.  They wouldn’t tell us what it was.  Finally, after much badgering, they let us have a taste.  It was pretty good, and we knew it was something they had snuck from somewhere; something they weren’t supposed to have.  That somehow made it taste much better than it really was, and we wanted in on it.  They wouldn’t tell us what it was.  They wouldn’t give us any more.  When we threatened to tell on them, they told us what it was, and that we  would have to get our own.  They told us we had to sneak into Coates’ big walk in pantry.  We got a bowl, put some flour in it, added water, and mixed it real good, just like they said.

The problem was, it didn’t taste so good!  We knew we had been had, but we couldn’t tell on them now, because we were guilty also.  It wasn’t until a long time later that Pat told me what they were eating was a cake mix!  They ate an entire bowl of it!  The thought of eating a whole bowl of cake batter now, doesn’t sound much better than the flour and water!  Kids!

Everett played the guitar and summer evenings often found us in their front yard.  Us kids used to jitterbug on their side-walk while he played.  I can remember Mom and Dad dancing sometimes too, and Dad singing along with Everett.

Oh, how I miss those simple, carefree days!  I am so glad I have those memories to lighten up my world when things seem a little dark.  Memories are a good thing.

Down Memory Lane… The Hand Muffs

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Sherry and Patsy Craig  Bruneau, Id

I am so glad I found this photo.  A short time back, my sister Pat and I were visiting with our Dad, recalling old memories of Bruneau and Boise.  This picture captures memories of both places.

Christmas in Bruneau..and our beloved fluffy, soft, white as snow, hand muffs!  I loved that hand muff.  It was better than any pair of gloves I’ve ever had.  It not only kept my hands warm, but it pampered me.  I felt sophisticated, and important wearing my little fur coat for my hands.

Then there was the trip to Boise.  We were shopping, walking down the sidewalk.  I was holding Mom’s hand.  I let go of her hand, snuggled my hand in that muff, admiring it, and lagging behind everyone.  I heard my name.  It was in a tone that said ” Get up here with us now!”

I ran up to Mom and grabbed her hand again as we walked. She was wearing white gloves.  I didn’t remember Mom wearing gloves.  I asked her where she got her gloves and looked up at her sweet face. …… Horror!  She did have a nice face, and she was smiling at me….but that was NOT MY MOTHER’S FACE!

I still remember the feeling of blood rushing to my face.  I was so embarrassed!  And I was frightened!  I started crying.  Then I heard my name again.  It was in a tone that said “Come here, it’s ok.”  That was my Mother’s voice.  It was such a sweet and loving voice.

I loved that voice.  I loved her face.  I loved the feel of her hand holding mine.  I still do.  I miss them all.  Some day I will hold her hand again.  I love you Mom.

As a post script, I love the picture of my Dad on the table.  Also I can remember wearing hair barrettes, like the one in Pat’s hair up to my pre-teen years.