Monthly Archives: May 2017

Hidden Figures Made Public

               If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet, I hope you’ll see it soon.  It’s an uplifting and appropriate tribute to the African-American female mathematicians who were an integral (but not fairly integrated) part of NASA’s   (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) “Space Race” back in 1961.  Hidden Figures is a family-friendly, PG-rated biographical docudrama with an IMDb rating of 7.8. It received over 75 nominations and 31 wins, and I thought it was superb!  The movie follows three of the women in particular: Katherine Johnson, a physicist who works as a “computer” (analyzing data before modern computers were available) in the Langley Research Center,  Mary Jackson, a very gifted mathematician who aspires to be an engineer in a day when both women and African-Americans were considered “unfit” to be engineers,  and Dorothy Vaughan, who works hard to be given her fair title as “supervisor,” which is the role she’s successfully fulfilling. Although the movie has received some criticism for time-line issues and credibility in details (the ladies used the restrooms that were available on site even though it was an issue), the movie did an excellent job of highlighting these three remarkable women, who deserve to have their lives brought out of the shadows.  In the movie, the charming romance of Katherine and her future husband, Jim Johnson, is depicted.                  As it turns out, they married and enjoyed 56 years together! In fact, Katherine Johnson won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. In 2016, a new 40,000-square-foot facility at the Langley Research Center was renamed the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility in her honor, and she was included in BBC series 100 Women. This lady was not only a brilliant physicist, she sang in her church choir for 50 years!  It was also true that Dorothy Vaughan became the acting supervisor of the West Area Computers in 1949. She was the first African-American woman to supervise a group of staff at the center. Over the course of her career, she taught herself and her staff FORTRAN (computer programming language) so they would be prepared to use the new machine computers that became available in the 1960’s.  Reflecting on her work, she said she felt as if she was on “the cutting edge of something very exciting.” Concerning the prejudice she encountered both for being African-American and for being a woman, she said, “I changed what I could, and what I couldn’t, I endured.”  Thankfully, she was eventually rewarded for being steadfast in good deeds and did receive the title she so richly deserved. An active Christian, Dorothy participated in music and missionary ministries at her church for many years. Mary Jackson did, in fact, became NASA’s first African-American female engineer! Beyond her work and family life, Mary spent many years tirelessly working to help gifted women and other minority peoples advance in their fields. Today, these three fantastic “hidden figures” have passed out of the shadows and into the lime light…here on earth. I suspect they were already stars in heaven before the movie was made. 🙂Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1  Corinthians 15:58).

Big Sable Lighthouse…and Michigan’s 128 other Lighthouses!

Did you know that there are 129 lighthouses in Michigan?  There are 42 on Lake Superior, 43 on Lake Huron, and 44 on Lake Michigan. We’ve seen dozens of them.  (I would have said “most” until I realized just how many there really are).  No two are alike; each is unique, and all of them are picturesque.  Our local favorite is the Grand Haven Lighthouse, which is being totally refurbished and will include a museum when it’s completed.  Did you know that the Big Bay Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior
just north of Marquette also runs a bed and breakfast?* Wouldn’t it be fun to stay at a lighthouse?  Actually, quite a few of the lighthouses have conservancies to help care for them where you can volunteer for a two-week stint in the summer
serving as a host and giving tours.  While we were at Ludington State Park recently,   we visited the Big Sable Lighthouse.  We climbed the stairs to the top   for spectacular views of the Lake Michigan Coastline,  visited their museum and gift shop, watched a video,
and heard tales about rescues and shipwrecks.   Seeing a list of all the ships that have sunk in Lake Michigan
made me appreciate lighthouses even more!  Thousands have shipwrecked and lost their lives because they had no light
to guide them safely through the storms.  Spiritually, God calls us to be like lighthouses to draw others toward Him. 

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7).   Are you walking in the light? Can others see the light of God’s presence in you?

“Rescue the Perishing”
Refrain: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.” (~from Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Rescue the Perishing,” 1869…in the era when hundreds of lighthouses were being built!)

  1. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
    Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
    Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
    Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
  2. Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
    Waiting the penitent child to receive;
    Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
    He will forgive if they only believe.
  3. Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
    Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
    Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
    Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
  4. Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
    Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
    Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
    Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

(* Photo of Big Bay Point Lighthouse from their website; I took the rest.)

Memorial Day: Remembering Hacksaw Ridge

Memorial Day began back in 1868 at the end of the Civil War as a special day to remember everyone in the U.S. military who had lost their life in the service of our country. At that time, it was called “Decoration Day,” and grave sites were decorated with flags and flowers. Memorial Day is celebrated as a national holiday on the last Monday in May now, and it also serves as the unofficial beginning of our summer. What I didn’t know before yesterday is that there are only 4 cemeteries in America and one on foreign soil where the flag can always be flown at half mast, and one of them is here in Michigan. Last May Alan and I had the privilege of exploring the Normandy Coast with our two youngest sons, and during that time, we saw many deeply moving (and distressing) museums and memorials to the devastation of World War 2.

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach is the one foreign cemetery
where the flag may be flown continuously at half mast. Can you guess where the others might be?
*Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.  *The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii *The Gettysburg National Cemetery near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania And last, but not least (because I believe it was the first),
U.S. Post Cemetery on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  On this special day to commemorate those who’ve lost their lives
in the service of our country, I would also like to express my deep gratitude
to those who have served or are serving presently. And, for any of you who have the stomach for a terrifying story of heroism
in war, I’d like to recommend Hacksaw Ridge. Hacksaw Ridge is based on the incredible true story of a young Christian kid named Desmond T.  Doss who joined the army during World War 2. Doss joined as a conscientious objector and became a medic. In one night of amazing heroism during the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss single-handedly saved 75 people  from being butchered by the enemies at the top of Hacksaw Ridge. Later he was honored as the first man in American history
to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot!

Oh, for a world full of men like Desmond T. Doss, who have a heart to protect the freedoms of their country while preserving life rather than destroying it. I know of no one other than Jesus who can inspire such courage and nobility! Jesus gave his life so that everyone in the entire world can have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This Memorial Day, would you like to be like Jesus and like Doss?

Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).

(*These 3 photos are from Wiki. The seven illustrating Hacksaw Ridge are from the 2016 movie by that name [directed by Mel Gibson], and the rest are mine, one from Fort Mackinac yesterday but the others from the Normandy Coast in France last May.)

Rise Up, My Love (236): Glorious Palm Trees

Song of Solomon 7:7 “This thy stature is like to a palm tree…” Palm trees tend to be tall and slender, often with a graceful curve reaching upward toward the heavens. This is an almost universally known fact and would be the most obvious reason for the King comparing his bride’s stature to a palm tree. Those of us who’ve been privileged to view more than pictures of these magnificent trees know the soothing pleasure that comes from watching a palm tree sway gently in the breeze.  For most of us, palm trees speak of warmth…of tropical weather and refreshing fruit drinks…of relaxing times of vacation. For our family, who are annual vacationers in Florida, seeing our first palm tree as we travel south brings a great sigh of relief and excitement: “We’re here!” After twenty-four hours in the van, we can get out and stretch our legs! No more snow and cold…just wonderful warmth and sunshine! It’s easy to imagine the king’s delight as he watched his beautiful young bride, as slender and graceful as a palm tree, and anticipated the bliss of sharing in the warmth and freedom of her love.  Researching palm trees also brings to light some other important (but perhaps less known) facts that provide rich food for thought. Most trees from more temperate zones, like these ancient olive trees from the Garden of Gethsemane, are exogenous, which means they grow by yearly adding layers of woody tissue. Age can be determined by counting the rings (one per year) seen in a cross-section of the tree. With age, the trees become wider and wider and the wood extremely hard and unbending. This characteristic is great if you are a tree hoping to be chopped down and turned into a durable piece of furniture, but it’s not so great if you want to continue living and withstanding storms.  In contrast, the palm tree is endogenous, and its softest part is its heart. (In fact, palm hearts are nutritious and considered a great delicacy.) Palm trees send roots deep into the earth in search of hidden springs so that they can survive even in desserts. These characteristics make palms flexible and resilient. When our property was battered by tornado force winds some time ago, over twenty huge deciduous trees were uprooted and destroyed. In contrast, Alan and I were “privileged” to be holed up at an oceanfront resort when Hurricane Irene ravaged the coast of Florida some years ago.   We watched helplessly as the sea began a frothy rage and boiled over. The large picture window in our room bulged, and the mirrors bounced on the walls. The waves and winds battered the palms mercilessly, and yet, they only bowed and bent, they did not break. When we woke up the morning after the storm had passed by, all the windows and the sunroof had blown out of our car, but the palms were upright and dancing in the sunlight again.For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her softest part is her heart…which is a great delight for all who partake of her tender goodness. For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her age is not necessarily determined by her width! For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her tap root goes down, down, down deep to the hidden springs of Living Water where she will be nourished and anchored, so that even though the storms of life batter her, she’ll be able to bend without breaking and lift her head again to sparkle in the morning sunshine.   Another interesting fact about palms is that they are one of the largest and most economically important families of the plant world, and in primitive cultures palms are a major provider of sustenance with a multitude of uses, including food, shelter, and clothing. Anyone who understands the supreme significance of the palm tree as a nurturer and sustainer for the world’s children can immediately understand another type of stature being discussed. “This thy stature is like to a palm tree,” could refer not only to his wife’s physical body build but also to his wife’s significance as a “tree among trees.” (See Song 2:3, where the bride compares her husband to a fruitful tree among the trees of the woods).   As the palm is among the most valuable of trees, so is Solomon’s bride among women. Not only was she graceful and beautiful like the palm, she may well have risen to a place of great significance in the kingdom as a sustainer and provider for those under her care.

(Although I took all these photos, I don’t actually have high quality pictures from our Florida trips or Hurricane Irene [which were taken before I had a digital camera], so I used more recent photos from other places.)

Summer Chicken Pasta Salad

Joel made us such a yummy pasta the other day that I asked him what recipe he used. He said he just made it up, and that he used to make it every once in a while when he lived in Boston and it was too hot to cook. So, if you’re looking for a cool dish for a hot night this summer, try this one:

Joel’s Chilled Chicken Pasta
(Serves 4-6)

Marinade:
1 pound boneless chicken (Joel used thighs, but breast meat or whatever works fine) in a dressing made of:
 lemon squeezed
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped thyme (can use crushed; fresh herbs are great if you have them, but if you have dried herbs from the seasoning rack, that works too)
1 pressed clove of garlic (not the whole bulb, just one section of it)
2 tablespoons olive oil

If you’re really ahead of the game, marinade the chicken in this mixture (covered) in the refrigerator overnight. If not, at least give it a few hours. Then, grill the chicken (or pan-fry).

Meanwhile:
Boil 1/2 pound radiatore (or other) pasta al dente with salt to taste.
Drain and chill.

Cube (or chop):
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 yellow pepper
1 small onion
1/4 cup chopped olives (green or black)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (or some type of hard, Italian cheese)

Mix these veggies with the cooled pasta and toss with:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
1/4 c. fresh Rosemary chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

To finish:
Cut grilled chicken into thinnish slices. Salt and pepper to taste. Place on top of salad. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  🙂Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” (Ecclesiastes 10:17).

 

Lovely Ludington: My Favorite Lower Michigan State Park

If you live in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and you’re looking for something really special to do on a weekend, consider visiting Ludington State Park.  We went camping there last weekend, but frankly, if you want to camp at one of their 350+ sites (plus 10 more for backpackers),  you need to get your reservations about 6 months in advance, because the campgrounds fill up soooo fast! Still, it’s a great place to visit, if only for the day.                                                   What makes it so special?                             Well, its beauty, its size, and its variety for starters.  Ludington State Park encompasses 5,300 acres of forest, sand dunes, and water,       including a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s pristine, sandy shoreline.  There are over 21 miles of marked hiking trails (also cross-country skiing, canoeing, and bike trails, including some lovely paved pathways that are handicap accessible). In summer, Lake Michigan waves and fresh water make for refreshing swimming, and if it’s too bracing for your taste, Lake Hamlin is usually warmer and appeals to swimmers and boaters. (This photo was taken last summer.) Although it was too cold this past weekend, hot days are also perfect for tubing down the Big Sable River to Lake Michigan.               There is always a lot of wildlife, including good fishing! We saw deer (can you see the doe peeking out?), wild turkeys, a big, fat racoon (who scared some neighboring campers), and many colorful birds.  The campsites are heavy with the scent of pines and the comforting sounds of water and birds. When I closed my eyes, I had to think twice. Was this real, or was it just a new recording of music for relaxation?  Thankfully, at Ludington State Park, the soothing sounds of nature are real! Do you have any recordings of music meant to help you relax? We do, and we love them! Distant thunder, dripping rain, waves lapping and rolling, the haunting melody of the evening thrush…spring peepers. Of everything that is music to my ears, I think the sound that lulls me to sleep most peacefully is that still, small voice within me—God’s Holy Spirit—singing to me I am loved by God. He loves you too! I hope you know that and find peace and rest in His love!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Sammy: Love From a Two-Year-Old

It’s been an entire month since I mentioned anything about “our” new baby in the family here in GR, but something so touching happened yesterday that I wanted to share it with you! As any of you who have children know, parenting isn’t for sissies. I have vivid memories of crazy-tired nights rocking and nursing babies, feeling dazed and totally unsure of how I’d survive the next day on so little sleep. It was in those middle-of-the-night hours that my faith became like bedrock in my soul, because as I poured out my heart to God, crying for help, I would find that He did answer. It wasn’t the power of positive thinking, and it wasn’t magic; it was mercy and grace. In the morning, I would imagine myself grabbing my machete and chopping again…trying to cut a swathe through the dry savanna grass (which was always higher than my head) so my children and I could walk on a path…The path! God is faithful.

I didn’t know sometimes from day to day if we’d survive, but we did, and I took that as a miracle. Frankly, I believe every child who grows to adulthood as a relatively healthy, spiritually and emotionally intact person is an answer to prayer and a miracle of God’s grace!

In that light, as I read my daughter-in-law’s Facebook post today, tears of thankfulness sprang to my eyes. With her permission, I’d like to share what she wrote:“There are many moments lately where life feels crazy-busy or just sort of crazy. I have come face-to-face with the reality of my own sin nature and with my inability to be a ‘perfect’ parent more times than I realized I would. So, I was having a brief moment of personal crisis today (not really… just a few quiet tears) over lack of sleep and two needy children when the Lord gave me a sweet gift through Mr. Samuel.  “Samuel was tired and having a moment of his own crisis of toddler-proportion when I brought him upstairs to try to get him to nap. While walking him around in my arms and feeling frustrated that he wasn’t sleeping, Elanor started crying with fervor. I realized that if I put Samuel down he would likely give up on napping and possibly get upset that he had lost my attention. But Samuel instead pointed at Elanor and said, ‘Sis. Feed milk.’ So I set Samuel down to take care of the baby while he contentedly played. Soon afterward Samuel told me, ‘Down. Eat, Mommy.’ After asking him, I realized he wanted me to go downstairs to feed myself. I was incredibly touched that my two-year-old would both be perceptive and giving enough to reflect God’s love in that small act.  “Crisis averted for the time being. 😉 No, he didn’t nap. Yes, food makes us more pleasant people. But especially, what an encouragement to watch my son demonstrate love.”

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins
” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV).