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Not my cooling board. . .not my winding-sheet:

January 23, 2021

Today, as I stepped out of the shower, and thanked God once again that I could take a shower on my own and that no one had to bathe me. As I was rejoicing and expressing my gratitude, I had a flashback of an experience occurring while growing up in a small Black church in mid-town Gary, Indiana in the 1950s. On countless Sunday mornings, the congregation gathered between the end of Sunday School and the actual opening of the morning service, and I recall that a dark-skinned deacon, whose name I can’t remember, would rise to lead the church in prayer. Beginning with familiar expressions of gratitude to God, the elder church official began with a prelude, slowly mounting in intensity before ending with a grand crescendo to lead the people of God to the Throne of God.

After a time, a couple of my buddies and I memorized the opening lines, snickering to ourselves as we bowed our heads repeating the familiar refrain that went something like this:

“Lord, thank you that the four walls of my room was not my grave, that my bed was not my cooling board, and my cover was not my winding-sheet.” I knew from context what the deacon meant, but I later learned that in African American culture a cooling board is a board used to present a dead body. According to definitions.net, “In winter months it would be difficult to bury the dead due to the earth being frozen, so the body was wrapped and propped in a barn until the ground thawed out.”

I learned the meaning of the term “winding-sheet” in graduate school while working on my doctorate with a minor in Afro-American Studies. I was introduced to a powerful short story, “Like a Winding Sheet,” by Ann Petry, a Harlem Renaissance author with whom I had something in common. We were both Black writers who were pharmacists. Because of my exposure to African American literature, I learned the meaning of this term used in the deacon’s prayer.

In my daily time of prayer, I give thanks to God for another day that I am alive and well and “clothed in my right mind,” another phrase from the deacon’s prayer. Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer more than twenty years ago, I have come to understand on the deepest personal level exactly what the good deacon was saying in his prayer that was repeated on Sunday mornings across the land back in the day. In reflecting on my childhood experience, I was moved to tears and inspired to write this psalm of praise to God:

Lord, thank you for my soul.

That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:12 (AMP)

Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed,         
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,       
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

If it had not been for you, I could have been dead,
Laid out on a cooling board, but one more time you remind
Me you are God of the living just as Jesus said.
Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.

Lord, you healed my body and gave me a sound mind.
You are my healer, and I believe what you said.
What you loose in heaven, no power on earth can bind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed.

You showed when you raised Jesus out from among the dead
The spirit of the living God cannot be confined.
Lord, I trust you—you alone know what lies ahead:
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,

Before you touched my soul, I was deaf, dumb, and blind.
After all I’ve been through, Lord knows I should have been dead,
But one more day you kept me clothed in my right mind,
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

From the soles of my feet to the crown of my head,
My total healing from the Lord is what is I find.
Yes, I can still pray, thank you for the presence of mind.
Lord, thank you for my soul.

I discovered this recording by Donny Hathaway, “Thank You, Master, for My Soul” where he mentions the familiar phrases I discussed and makes sidebar comments, “Y’all don’t know what I’m talking about.” I chuckled and fought back the tears, saying “Oh, yes I do!” Listen and reflect with gratitude with me.

Good News Day—Break it Down–What the Scriptures Say

January 2, 2021

 This is the day the LORD has made;
 we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 Psalm 118:24

As the New Year unfolds, I remind myself that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve that each day will hold “Good News!” I often recite the original poem “Good News Day” on birthdays and other occasions of celebration. I recall sharing the poem on my birthday when I happened to be part of a Bible study taught by Thamo Naidoo from South Africa. After hearing my joyful recitation, he remarked. “This isn’t just a nice poem, but it’s a prophetic declaration from the Lord.” Years later, I thought about his comment, and I decided to look at the poem more closely. Today’s blog post examines some Scriptural references that come to mind as we examine the poem line by line:

It’s a good news day

The title brings to mind the account of the four leprous men who entered the camp of the enemy and made a remarkable discovery:

8 When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. 9 Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”

no blues day

Psalm 30:11 (AMP)

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
I have also composed some originals related psalms: “No Mo Blues” and “Little Boy’s Blues” which reiterate the same message.

new shoes

This line makes me think of “Parable of the Prodigal Son” the source of inspiration for “Homecoming” another original poem “Homecoming.” Here is a reference:

Luke 15:22 (KJV)

But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

no way to lose

2 Corinthians 2:14 (AMPC) reinforces the same message:

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

What a good news day!

It’s a great day

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.
I have also composed a number of original songs from a collection: “Songs in the Night Sung in the Morning”

I can’t wait day!

We look forward to each new day with great expectations:

Romans 10:11 (AMP):

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations].”

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Philippians 4:4 (AMP) reminds us of this reality:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again, I will say, rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again, I say rejoice

Good God, a good news day!

Here are verses to remind us that we serve a “Good God!”:

Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Lamentations 3:25

The LORD is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].

It’s a payday

For those who serve the Lord, every day is a payday:

Psalm 68:19 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

I often encourage believers to make every day a “Pay Day.” Although that’s sweet, I’m not talking about a candy bar. To illustrate what I mean by “get paid every day,” I often recite “Barter” by Sara Teasdale. Here is a definition of the verb barter: to exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.

Isaiah 55:1 expresses the same sentiments:

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!

goin my way day
no nay–all yea
what you say

When it comes to the promises of God, there is not yes and no, but this verse clarifies the matter:

2 Corinthians 2:20 (AMP):

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ, they are [all answered] “Yes.” So, through Him, we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

Such a good news day!

It’s a live it up day
overflowin cup day

This line brings to mind one of the most recognized lines from Psalm 23:

Psalm 23:5 (NLT):

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

It’s a bright and bubbly
doubly lovely

This line refers to our gracious, beneficent Father:

Isaiah 62:7

Instead of your [former] shame, you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation, your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore, in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Show-nuff good news day!

 Mandisa offers a musical summary of  the celebratory poem with “Good News”

There may be other scriptures that come to mind when you hear “Good News Day. If you would be so kind, share them in the comments below, and may each day of 2021 be

‘. . . a bright and bubbly,
Doubly lovely,
Show-nuff good news day!’

A Rose for all seasons: Celebrating 93 years

December 22, 2020

Today, December 22, 2020, is another “Good News Day,” as we celebrate the 93rd birthday of a wonderful woman, my mother-in-law, Rosa Lee Williams, affectionately called, “Grandma Rosa.” Here is a special tribute to this special lady, our West Virginia Rose:

For Rosa Lee Williams
in celebration of her ninety-third birthday
December 22, 2020

A Rose for All Seasons

The wilderness and the solitary place
shall be glad for them, and the desert
shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Isaiah 35:1

We glorify the Lord for all He has done
And express our gratitude for countless reasons.
We praise God for the flowers, for each one,
For a Rose that grows in beauty, a Rose for all seasons.

When blossoms first open and birds begin to sing
And the voice of the turtledove is heard once more,
As the Rose of Sharon heralds the coming of Spring,
So, we glimpse our future to see what God has in store.

The hot, hazy summer days all too swiftly pass,
As our minds try to recall each beautiful scene.
Fleeting times of this season revolve and encompass
The last Rose of summer with leaves of deepest green.

A Rose in autumn offers a lesson we can learn:
We see that the budding Rose never stays the same.
Life is ever-changing, as leaves begin to turn.
At all times, we bless the Lord and praise His name.

Though slowly, a Rose still grows, even in winter.
As a new day is dawning, we look ahead
And seek to do God’s will, to abide in the center,
To follow the Lord wherever our paths have led.

We want to be enlightened, and everyone wants to know
The secret to longevity; we desire to know this:
In our garden a precious Rose still blossoms and grows:
Our Rose for all seasons, reminds us once more—“God is!”

Whiter than snow: What do you mean?

December 17, 2020

This morning, I awoke and opened the blinds to see the residual effect of the first snow since we moved to Northern Virginia more than a year ago. A snowstorm swept through much of the area, depositing more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state. Even though it may accumulate in seeming excess, the silent splendor of falling snow is a glorious sight that reminds us that God has made everything beautiful in its time. As I looked upon the crystal beauty of the landscape, I thought of Isaiah 1:18, a verse that mentions a series of similes, or comparisons using “like” or “as” that describe contrasting views of sin and allude to the purifying process of repentance:

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

According to notes from Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,

The rabbis say that when the lot was taken to select a scapegoat as a sacrifice a scarlet thread was bound on the scapegoat’s head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people’s sins over it, the fillet [A narrow strip of ribbon or similar material] became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified. . . . Hebrew for “scarlet” radically means double-dyed. . . .

We recognize that without repentance there is no remission of sin. With repentance, however, sins can become “white as snow,” and “white as wool,” that is, restored to an original un-dyed state of whiteness.

There is a grand wonder in winter, as such scenes unfold in breath-taking splendor, to remind us of the soul-cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ which came to mind and inspired this poetic description:

Frosted Wood Scene

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18


The stark nakedness
of the dark bark
blooms with crystal leaves.
Where death once reigned,
blossoms now flourish,
even as grace
did much more abound
and flower as
graceful almond trees.

I stand enraptured,
surrounded by
the fragile beauty
of the landscape
etched in a fuller
white than any
angel’s bright raiment.

The frosted wood scene
shows God’s design
to cleanse and make whole
the soul of man
that he might surely
know the pure love
that cleanses, covers
whiter than snow,
Lord, whiter than snow.

We close with another contemporary song of praise: “Whiter than the Snow”

Even deeper: Enhancing our relationship with the Lord

December 10, 2020

This morning as I began my time of meditation and prayer, I thought of words of encouragement spoken to those age 50 and older in our church, Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly, VA. Minister Michelle Jones exhorted the believers present on a Zoom call to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord and with His Word. We are living in tumultuous times, as we all are facing blinding rain and Hurricane-force winds that seek to toss us about and overwhelm our souls. In the midst of it all, God is calling believers to a deeper relationship with Him.

During this period of unprecedented upheaval where everything that can be shaken is being shaken, Psalm 42:7 (NIV) comes to mind:

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Timothy Jemly, comments on this verse in his book, God’s Submarines: Go below the waves of stress, anxiety, and heartbreak using these simple tools to deepen your relationship with God.


“God dwells in the depths, and He has put within us a deep longing that cries out for Him; under all of our busyness is a longing for stillness of the deep.”


He goes on to explain:

“The last part of the verse says, “Your waves and breakers have passed over me.” That carries a different connotation than being tossed by the waves. If they sweep over you, then you are below them

The United States Navy tells its submarine captains that in the event of approaching hurricanes, they are to head for the nearest spot where they can dive into the depths. Why? Because even in the biggest hurricanes, things are calm down in the depths.”

I express my heart’s desire for even greater intimacy, for a relationship that is

Even Deeper

More intimate than friend or kin or wife
Is close-knit love God weaves within my life.

Lonnell E. Johnson

I have learned to value the foremost relationship
That transcends the deep affections of a loving wife,
Beyond Hebron, the place of our closest kinship,
Even above the heights of our most cherished friendship,
For, this relationship impacts all facets of life.
Above all else, this I know: God loves me–I love Him.
I vow to honor and obey as long as I live.
I will admonish and encourage and be strengthened.
All the borders of my heart I promise to lengthen.
I will not harbor resentment but willingly forgive.
My faith in the true and living God may it increase.
Even in the midst of strife, I sow seeds of peace.
Striving to maintain this primary relationship
Builds even deeper levels of intimate worship.

As we are blessed to close out another year, our hearts overflow with gratitude to God whose loving-kindness and tender mercy have brought us thus far along the way. We look ahead with even greater vision, knowing that the New Year holds blessings beyond anything we could ever ask or think, as we strengthen our relationship with the Lord who calls us to go even deeper.

We close with a moving song of worship: “Deep Calls unto Deep”:

Hold your peace and trust in the Lord

December 8, 2020

This morning during my time of prayer, I noticed the verse sent to those praying for Carolina College of Biblical Studies this week, one of my favorite verses related to abiding in the peace of God as we trust in the Lord, Isaiah 26:3 in the Amplified Bible. However, to appreciate more fully what the verse reveals about trust, we need to examine the following verse as well, a familiar reference that also speaks about the individual who trusts in God:

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
4 So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Psalm 56:1-4: in the New Living Translation also speaks of trusting in the Lord. This particular passage offers great comfort, as a reservoir of strength and encouragement:

1 O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
3 But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4 I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

Verses 9-11 also reiterate the Psalmist’s determination to trust God:

9 My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
yes, I praise the LORD for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?

The Word of God speaks to each believer to learn to trust in the Lord, as you renew your mind and

Hold Your Peace

So, shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

Isaiah 59:19

The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:14

These days when the enemy enters as a flood
With distress and intense pressure on every side,
Despite signs of defeat, the Lord God is still good.
In the thick of battle, in peace, we will abide.
The Spirit of the Lord raises a bold standard:
Lord of Hosts bears His arm, as Jehovah Nissi
Covers us with His love; though foes may have slandered,
His royal banner is displayed for us to see:
Faithful Adonai has never slept nor slumbered.
He is not slack but hastens to perform His Word.
Despite outward signs, we are never outnumbered,
For we know that the battle belongs to the Lord.
On the battlefield, fierce attacks seem only to increase,
But as God told Moses, “Stand still and hold your peace!”

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T:

We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with
Rugged determination” and
Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop
Strengthened believing” and
Tremendous confidence”

We are also learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Even as David encouraged himself in the Lord in Psalm 56 and throughout the Psalms, so we too encourage ourselves, as we trust God with all our heart and do not lean to our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all our ways, knowing that He will direct our paths.

We close with a song of trust written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” The lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4 which reinforces the comforting and reassuring message God will keep us in a state of perfect peace as we trust Him. As a result, we should trust in the Lord God forever, for He is the everlasting Rock of Ages:

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, every day is Thanksliving Day

November 26, 2020


We are in the “Thanksgiving season,” with an almost automatic association with turkey and dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (or sweet potato pie, depending upon your ethnic tastes). For Christians, however, thanksgiving is more than a holiday observed the fourth Thursday in November. Actually, “Thanksgiving” is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for this season, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season, even in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially during these unprecedented times of uncertainty.

When I use the term “thanksgiving,” I look at the word in its most literal sense, meaning “to give thanks” or “to show one’s self grateful.” It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy which speaks of “requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving. . . .

As a Christian believer, expressing thanks to God for His grace and goodness should never be confined to a single period of time. God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. Scriptures remind us of this truth in a number of places:

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for something, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin by thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the long list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, the innermost desire of every believer.

We desire to do more than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, but we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” which some have called “thanksliving.” The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this poem:

Thanksliving

What shall we render to the Lord for all
His grace? What can we say to offer praise
Worthy of His glory? How can we call
With all our being upon His name and raise
A new song from the depths of our heart?
We must do more than mouth a platitude–
To express our soul in words is an art;
Yet words cannot express our gratitude.
Our words are empty and without merit.
“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.
So, we must worship God with our spirit
And must give thanks well for all of our days.
To live is to give thanks with tongue and limb.
With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

Beyond merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. We must show how grateful we are with all of our being, “Thank God, it’s Sunday through Saturday.” As we do so, we counteract the negative effects of “stinkin’ thinkin’”: thoughts of disappointment, discouragement, despair, and any other toxic emotions that seek to keep us from being all that God designed us to be.

We close with a music video described as the best Thanksgiving song ever, expressing the power of gratitude, praise, worship, and adoration:

What if. . . If it had not been

November 13, 2020

This morning I woke up and began my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for, and as I reflected upon the goodness of God, I thought of Psalm 124 which I read aloud in the New Living Translation. The Psalmist stimulates our thinking with one of those “What if. . .” questions:

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 What if the LORD had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the LORD had not been on our side when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger.
4 The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives.
6 Praise the LORD, who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!
8 Our help is from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 in the New King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—

Psalm 124:1


If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, the dawning of a brand-new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight, and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him, I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Esther Mui sings “Psalm 124 Song (NKJV) “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord.”:

We conclude with this comment—“ ‘No what-ifs, ands, or buts about it,’ the Lord is good.”

Veterans Day Tribute 2020

November 12, 2020

Each year on November 11, I pause to reflect upon Veterans Day, a national holiday of special significance to me. First of all, I am a veteran, having served two years in the US Army, from 1967 to the end of 1968 during the Vietnam era. Most providentially that experience relates to my being back in the Washington, DC area where I lived from 1969 to 1971. Upon being discharged, I found a job as an information analyst working for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in the Nation’s Capital. Most providentially, this is where I met my wife, Brenda. We were married in 1973 and returned to live in Arlington, VA, near the area where we currently live, right up the road from our older daughter, Melissa, and her husband, William, and our first grandson, Kingston.

Each Veterans Day, I reflect with the deepest gratitude upon my military experience, which first appeared to be a disaster but turned out to be a remarkable blessing and a time of great spiritual growth. When I graduated from high school in 1960, I enrolled at Purdue University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1965, subsequently becoming a registered pharmacist, working as a staff pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary, IN. While enjoying the “good life,” I received my “Greetings from Uncle Sam” in 1967 was drafted into the US Army. Back then I thought this was the worst thing that could have happened to me. Being drafted into the Army in the late 60s was not an ideal situation for a young African American male in light of the disproportionate number of black men sent to Viet Nam, many of whom did not return and others who were forever changed by that experience.

In January of 1967 after a tearful farewell with my parents, I boarded the bus that took me to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Upon completing my basic training, I was sent to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, where I was given the option of working in a dispensary filling prescriptions, as I had done previously, or I could choose to become a pharmacy instructor and teach pharmacy technicians.

The second option sounded intriguing since I had not done that before, and so I chose to become a pharmacy instructor, which turned out to be ideally suited to me and opened up a new world of classroom teaching which ignited a passion to teach. This passion eventually motivated me to pursue a master’s degree in English from Emporia State University in Kansas and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University. This passion continues to burn, even as I am teaching classes online at Carolina College of Biblical Studies and St. Augustine’s University.

My time of service as a pharmacy instructor began with intense training at the Medical Field Service School. During this time, I recall one particular veteran from Kentucky whom I knew briefly while serving as a pharmacy instructor at Fort Sam Houston. He and I had a number of things in common: we were both drafted as pharmacists who opted to become pharmacy instructors, but there was one notable difference. I had not signed up for an additional year of service, despite the Army’s indicating I might not get a pharmacy position if I didn’t. My fellow serviceman had signed up for the additional year, but we both received pharmacy positions. The additional year, however, increased the likelihood of being sent to Vietnam if a pharmacy position needed to be filled there.

About nine months after we completed our training as instructors, my fellow instructor received orders for Vietnam, and by the end of the year, he was shipped overseas. In the early part of the next year, we received the news that he had been killed. The impact of that experience did not fully resonate with me until years later on Memorial Day when I looked up the name of this individual on the website for the Vietnam Memorial and recognized that he was from a small town in Kentucky. I was teaching a composition and literature class at the time at the Louisville campus of Indiana Wesleyan University when I saw my colleague’s death in a totally different light. In literature, we find a term called a Christological figure or Christ Figure. The term refers to an object, person, or figure representing Christ allegorically or symbolically, or any similar object, person, or figure with qualities generally reminiscent of Christ, one of the most notable qualities being “self-sacrifice.”

I was overwhelmed by the reality that my fellow instructor, in a sense, went in my place. What transpired while I was in the Army culminated in an awareness of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who took my place and gave his life that I might live. My whole experience in the military brings to mind my favorite verse in my favorite chapter of the Bible:

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.

Today I recognize more clearly than ever what Satan meant for evil, God in His providence, transforms into something great and glorious. Each Veterans Day, I reflect with gratitude to God for my time of service in the military, recognizing the contribution that veterans have made and continue to make to secure the blessings of liberty that we enjoy, especially during this period in our nation’s history.

We conclude with this Veterans Day Tribute:

A golden moment that took my breath away

October 10, 2020

This morning as I awoke and began my morning meditation, I opened an email from Kary Oberbrunner, who posted some words of encouragement and a breathtakingly beautiful photo of a sunset taken by his daughter. As I marveled at the beauty of God’s creation while reflecting on Kary’s comments, the words of Maya Angelou also came to mind:

Life is not measured by the breaths we take But by the moments that take our breath away.

Lately, I have come to appreciate the splendor of each morning sunrise and evening sunset and other scenes of Nature that move me to tears. I added this photo to the keep-sake gallery of my mind, as I savored another “golden moment” that left me speechless in the presence of God.

As a junior in high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Hortense House, required her students to memorize “Barter,” an exquisite poem by Sara Teasdale. I can still recall the poem by heart, and the words came to mind, especially the last stanza, as looked at the photo and thought about the quotation from Maya Angelou:

Barter

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Sara Teasdale

Take a look at this video-clip of images related to the poem:


I also recall the lyrics to a song by Michael W. Smith with a similar title:

You Take My Breath Away

Glory so beautiful
The earth displays your majesty
How could you ever be
So mindful of someone as me
Your captive
Splendor I have never seen
Nothing else can compare
You’re infinite, you’re everywhere

(Chorus)
You’re everything I can’t explain
You set my heart on fire
And here I stand amazed
You take my breath away
You take my breath away
See me, all I am
These empty hands are all I can give
That you would die so I’d live
Your sacrifice I can’t believe
You fascinate
You stole my heart, I can’t forget
And now that I’ve felt your love
No turning back, I can’t get enough

(Bridge)
With just one word
With just one glance
I’m lost in this divine romance
And every single day more than I can say
You take my breath away

(Chorus)
You’re everything I can’t explain
You set my heart on fire
And here I stand amazed
You take my breath away
The morning breaks, my soul awakes
You are my one desire
And I here stand amazed
You take my breath away

Oh Oh Oh – Oh Oh Oh – Oh Oh Oh
You take my breath away
Oh Oh Oh – Oh Oh Oh – Oh Oh Oh
You take my breath away
You take my breath away


Our lives are filled with breath-taking “golden moments” for us to savor and cherish each day.