The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I don’t’ know when this song first had an impact on me, it’s meaning has changed over time as I have heard it year after year. In the last few years, it has changed from a song of dispare to a song of great hope and joy! I love to hear it and in my church, the organist really makes it wonderful and uplifting!

In my own life, I have moved through this opinion of the world and mankind in it. I remember a time when I was not interested in the affairs of those around me. It was typical of me to avoid others and not care what happened to those around me. At one point I didn’t even care about my siblings. Over the course of several years, my life took me into hard times and an actual and spiritual all desert.

It took a a few small acts from friends and family to soften my heart. Then I was presented with a choice … the choice between dark and light. The choice between walking the path of faith of the path of rebellion.

I was attending church with a very dear friend of mine, a guy who was and is an example to me. During the sermon, the pastor spoke about making New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t remember most of his sermon, at the very end, he said; “If there is only. one resolution that you make this year, make it to become more like Christ.” It was in that moment a decision had to be make. I was acting like the Israelites and halting between 2 decisions. It took me 3 days to make a decision about what path I would take.

As this year comes to a close, the twentieth year since that day, I have reflected upon the path my life has taken. I have often reflected on the decision I made and all the good things that have come from that day. I am ever so grateful for my wife – Lauren, my 4 boys, the faith that has developed, my education, the experiences, the books, the friends, my home, and job. All the good things that have come into my life, have come from that day.

The relationships with my siblings and parents have improved, my friendships have grown and more friends have come into my life. My gratitude abounds and my desire to share that gratitude and abundance continues to grow the more abundance and blessing flow into my life!

My hope and desire for this New Year is that you will be able to see and experience the blessing and abundance that is there for each and every one of us!

iron wil

Gratitude

As today is the first day of November and Halloween is behind us, many people will do the twenty X days of thankfulness and post about the things they are thankful for. I just wonder how many of us express our gratitude during the rest of the year? I personally have been working on doing better at this for many years. It isn’t that I am not grateful, it is that I don’t express it as quickly as I should. I have a brother that is really good at doing this, for many years he has set a great example for me and our siblings.

I do look forward to the holidays each year with hope and excitement because many people seem to be filled with joy and kindness. The world seems to become a better place even for these next 2 months as the year ends with Christmas and New Year’s. These 2 months seem to rekindle our connection to each other and remind us that not only are we not alone, we are connected. Something that continues to impress me about several homeless people I have met is their gratitude for the smallest kindness or service.

I have a friend that is homeless and so I don’t see him very much, nor do I hear from him very often. Our friendship has made me more aware of the homeless community within my county and how I might be better able to help them as a group and individually. I know that it is going to get colder with fall in full swing and winter coming on soon; the homeless shelter in town recently underwent some renovations and now can sleep 78 (?). Which I have learned in a community of 110,000 people, that is not enough to help out these individuals.

In our nation today, with all the wealth and resources we have, this continues to be an issue. It is also a very complicated issue from what I have witnessed. I don’t have an answer on how to solve this problem … I don’t know if it is a problem we will ever solve in a way that truly helps our fellow citizens. I know that many of them have lost hope and their dignity. I hope one day that we can solve this problem for our nation … especially because we are better than this. We are a great nation and one that has and can do hard things.

Gratitude, such a plain and unassuming word that is filled with love and depth. May each of us allow our hearts to be turned a little more to our neighbor and reach to lift the head that hangs down and strengthen the feeble knees. May God bless our nation that we can again lead the world in goodness and hope for a brighter future.

iron wil

Pain leads to Hope

The hope has turned to pain, tears fill my eyes;
the past is awash in mistakes;
enough to drown a man in sorrow,
hope for a better tomorrow seems like a candle in the wind.

No hope of staying bright, no hope of finding the light;
yet, there is One who shines in these times …
One who walks, whispers, and guides me.

My weaknesses He knows,
my heart He has held;
pain is retreating,
when His arms are around me.

Healing comes like the dawn after a storm;
bright and clear, clean and warm.
My heart heals and blessings are known;
with His blood all wounds are sown.

iron wil

The Soldiers Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight.

Soon `round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of soldiers like this one lying here.

I couldn´t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don´t cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don´t ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep,
I couldn´t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night´s chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black,
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside.
I didn´t want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so clean and pure,
“Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night!

Footnote: I wrote this poem for Christmas Eve 1993 while assigned to US Forces Korea – Lt Col Bruce W. Lovely, USAF (Printed in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, 1995). With Apologies to Clement Moore Who First Wrote the Story for His Children in 1822 also credit given to M/Sgt Noah Brazos Ross, RA18033195, a US Army 18th Field Artillery survivor of Utah Beach, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Battle for the Ardennes, Deutschland wrote “Daddy’s Christmas” (Soldier’s Christmas)” as a Bonita, Montague County, Texas, high school exercise in 1937).

Christmas 2008

Christmas (IPA: /krɪsməs/), also referred to as Christmas Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that honors the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.[2][3] The day marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days.[4] The nativity of Jesus, which is the basis for the anno Domini system of dating, is thought to have occurred between 7 and 2 BC.[5] December 25 is not thought to be Jesus’ actual date of birth, and the date may have been chosen to correspond with either a Roman festival,[6] or with the winter solstice.[7]

Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, church celebrations, and the display of various decorations—including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Santa Claus (also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two figures have different origins) is a popular mythological figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas. Santa is generally believed to be the result of a syncretization between Saint Nicholas and elements from pagan Nordic and Christian mythology, and his modern appearance is believed to have originated in 19th century media.

Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. Because gift-giving and several other aspects of the holiday involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, Christmas has become a major event for many retailers.

read more at Wikipedia . . .

I hope your Holidays are Merry and Bright!

iron wil

p.s. Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.