Fact v Fiction in Ford v Ferrari

Probably not everybody is as geeked by hot cars as my husband is . . .

but even if you’re not into speed and racing, I think you might find the 2019 Ford v Ferrari fascinating. At least—I sure did! (“Terrifying” also comes to mind.)

It’s based on the true story of Ford Motor Company’s frenetic battle to develop a car that could beat Ferrari in the world’s premiere 24-hour Le Mans race.

Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles

Like the Le Mans itself, the movie is a grueling 2.5 hour heart-clutching experience, but the acting was superb and the story gripping.

This 2019 masterpiece (IMBd 8.2, PG-13) left me amazed and elated as well as angry and sad.

Like all of the world’s best true stories, there was triumph—

but also tragedy.

Ford v Ferrari had such an emotional impact on me that I had to do some research to figure out what really happened versus what was scripted to make for more tension in the movie.

Although Henry Ford II and Leo Beebe were ruthless, it appears they weren’t quite as despicable as portrayed in the movie.

It sounds like the close relationship between the Texan designing maven, Carroll Shelby, and his British-born driver, Ken Miles was real. (Ken was a mechanic by trade but had nerves of steel . . . he really had driven a tank onto the beach of Normandy in 1944.)

Catriona Balfe as Mollie Miles

Also authentic was the beautiful love relationship between Ken Miles and his sweet wife, Mollie.

Ditto for the love and devotion that existed between Ken and his son, Peter. (In fact, it sounds like Ken truly was an awesome person and highly respected by all who knew him . . . even if they did tease him about being “Teabag Teddy” for loving his English tea!)

One of the most amazing things about the movie (for me personally) was learning that all the super intense racing sequences were 100% real without any computer generated effects! Since all the original cars are now worth millions of dollars, they didn’t try to use originals but went to great pains to build authentic-looking replicas.

The only computer-generated visual effects were the crowds! Can you imagine how many extras they’d need to portray the thousands of spectators attending the 1966 Le Mans race?!

The movie failed to give full credit where credit was due for the development of the Ford GT40. Although Shelby and Miles were perhaps the most invested, there was an entire team of Ford engineers scrambling to analyze and perfect their company’s entry for the 1966 Le Mans race.

The “Real” Ken Miles on the left superimposed with Christian Bale from https://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/ford-v-ferrari/

However, for better and worse, the story’s major triumphs and tragedies were real and powerfully portrayed. It’s a story that made me really admire the life and legacy of Ken Miles.

I want to be as determined and tough as he was.

I want to be as brave and steady as he was under pressure.

I want to endure like he did.

I want to be willing to run the race of life with everything I’ve got!

And, I want to remember at all times that doing my best and being my best are even more important than winning the world’s acclaim.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

(P.S.— I wrote this post just before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and then it seemed superficial to be thinking about cars and crowds for a while, but the sentiment is so true that I’m now ready to share it with you. Amidst all the suffering and destruction, I believe we need encouragement to persevere!

A Memorial Day Tribute

For anyone who’s feeling sad to miss being able to celebrate with friends and family this Memorial Day Weekend, I would like to remind us ( because I’m among this group) that Memorial Day was established as a day to mourn for and honor the valiant soldiers who have given their lives to keep our country free for the past 150+ years!

Memoirs of Omaha Beach Landing—so worth watching
for those of us who never lived through the horrors of World War 2.
Lord, deliver us from repeating our world’s past mistakes!

While exploring France a few years ago, we traveled to Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Lower Normandy, France so we could visit the Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie . . . the museum and monuments commemorating the battles of Normandy during World War 2.

I was born just five years after the war ended in Europe, but in America, nobody was really talking about the war. People were intent on trying to forget and rebuild their lives.

I think this was actually impossible, but because the war was mostly fought on foreign soil, and our guys were mostly buried overseas, the terrible scars and unending need for rebuilding was not as obvious.

Therefore, it meant all the more to me to be able to visit the Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie, with its vast storehouse of information about D-Day and the war to free Normandy, France from the Nazis.

The day we visited was immensely foggy and dreary . . . it couldn’t have been more somber or fitting.

Omaha Beach Memorial

If ever you’re tempted to start a war (even with your beloved family members), please stop and do a little research into the horrible effects and unforgettable sorrows you will inflict—not only on others, but also on yourself. There are ultimately NO winners in a war.

There will be the victors and the heroes . . . we actually got to meet one the day we visited. But, I feel certain that had I asked him, he would have wished the world had been able to contain and overcome the threat of world dictatorship without the terrible personal, national, and international losses.

However, I would also guess that until God causes wars to cease, people and nations will continue being willing to sacrifice their lives to fight for the freedoms they believe to be their God-given rights. It’s the ultimately difficult job, but I am grateful for every person who serves in our military—and for every military that protects the rights of their people to live peaceable, quiet, godly lives. Thank you, soldiers, and “Hats Off!” to my son and his family (serving in the military) as well. May God bless and protect you all.

Barbed wire still in place along Normandy Coast of France. Omaha Beach Landing

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:8-10). Oh Lord, we wait on you to bring an end to wars forever! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

After War Comes Peace

May 8, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe—a national holiday in France. Last week I shared with you a little bit about Jérôme, the french catechist who loves Jesus. In corresponding about VE-Day celebrations, Jérôme reminded me that “after war comes peace.”

What a comforting reminder for each of us during this season of world-wide unrest and “war” on COVID! Someday—we don’t know when—there will be peace again.

Rubble left from D-Day attack along the coast of Normandy, France
now adorned with gorse bushes

During our trip to France, I was touched over and over again by seeing this lived out in nature. All along the Normandy Coast, wildflowers and soothing fields of green grasses and moss were softening the terrain . . . overcoming destruction with beauty.

Violets and moss flourish atop an old stone wall. Mont Saint-Michel, France.

Did you know that “peace” is mentioned 420 times in the Bible? Something about the quiet glory of wildflowers taking root in rubble and along the rugged cliff sides made me think of peace.

Land scarred by bomb craters now jeweled with flowers

Peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. In this light, please let me share a few wildflowers from France and a handful of my favorite verses on peace from the Bible:

Honeybee on Forget-me-not

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . .
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace
(Ecclesiastes 3:1,8).

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

Salvia and sea pinks stand like sentinels of peace along the cliffs of Étretat France.

Great peace have they which love thy law:
and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

Lichens and violets climb the walls of Mont Saint-Michel in France

But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:
for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).

Stinging Nettles

He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me:
for there were many with me” (Psalm 55:18).

Kidney Vetch on slopes at Cliffs of Etretat, France.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Columbine near Mont Saint-Michel in France.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Highbush Cranberry

Love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Cabbage White Butterfly on Common Winter-cress

Mercy and truth are met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Mounds of wild roses transform the once Nazi-occupied Normandy Coast

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness
quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).

Honey bee on Gorse Bush. Étretat, France.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Sea Pinks along cliffs of Étretat, France.

In his days shall the righteous flourish;
and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Psalm 72:7).

Nature softens an abandoned bunker at Pointe du Hoc, France

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Trying to Keep Perspective

Have you seen this reminder of what life was like in America a hundred years ago? Yesterday, our governor announced that Michigan is going to be in lock-down for another two weeks, until May 28th. With most of the world, I was feeling a bit discouraged over being cooped up and distressed by the disruption of society as we’ve known and treasured it! Someone came up with this cogent reminder (below the cartoon), which I thought might be helpful to all of us as we struggle to keep biding our time:

“It’s a mess out there now . . . hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.

On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and it doesn’t end until your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the same year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. 
 
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. This era of economic ruin lasts until you are 33. America nearly collapses . . . along with the rest of the world.
 
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 
 
Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.  
 
When you are 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth until you’re 55, you have to deal with the fear of polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or dying.  
 
At 55, the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you live each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you experience the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War, when life on our planet—as we know it—almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985, you didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was, or how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art, refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above—you are called to stay home and sit on your  couch—probably worried about how to survive on a reduced income and how to get your unemployment check.”

(I don’t know the author, but I appreciated the straight talk! The cartoon was posted on Sarah Jaeschke’s Face Time Line—thanks for the laugh, Sarah. 🙂 Let’s endure patiently, and if we still have food and shelter, we have great cause for being thankful!)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Passover Prayer

Have you ever thought of praying for the Lord to “pass over” your family as the tidal wave of COVID sweeps our world? I know some people don’t believe COVID is a significant threat, since many people are asymptomatic and 80% of those who get infected are able to recover without hospitalization. Others believe the whole pandemic is really some sort of conspiracy to take over the world and destroy human rights and freedoms, citing the officers in Colorado who handcuffed a 33-year-old man who was playing T-ball with his six-year-old daughter.

I don’t look at COVID as trumped up hype or conspiracy. I look at it as something akin to the plague nearly 3,500 years ago when God sent his Death Angel to kill the firstborn in every family throughout Egypt except those families which had smeared the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their homes, as God had directed them to do: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:13).

Last night began the week long Passover festival to commemorate God’s deliverance, which faithful Jews still celebrate today. I know God has not told us to pray for God to “pass over” us today concerning the COVID-19 plague, but I also see no reason why we can’t ask if he will! Maybe he will be gracious and deliver us, as he did the Israelites so long ago.

On the other hand, God absolutely tells us to apply the blood of the Lamb to the doorposts of our hearts so that we will be delivered from spiritual death and receive eternal life. If you read through both the Old and New Testaments, you will see that God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, although at the last minute, God provided a ram instead: “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8).

About four hundred years later, God told the Israelites to sacrifice lambs so that the Death Angel would pass over them. This “Passover” was a literal reality which saved them from literal, physical death, but it also occurred to teach a greater spiritual truth to the entire world—the necessity of a blood sacrifice to save us from spiritual death. It wasn’t until Jesus died on the Passover about 1,500 years later (2020 years ago) that God revealed to the world that he was willing to sacrifice his “uniquely begotten son”—God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ—as the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. As John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Do you think the stories about Jesus are trumped up hype and his resurrection just some sort of conspiracy theory, or have you beheld the Lamb of God? I am praying for people to recognize the true plague that sin is and acknowledge its power to kill us. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23). Unlike COVID, sin will cause the death of 100% of us. Have you asked Jesus to take away your sins and deliver you from spiritual death?

Painting by Yongsung Kim, used by permission of Havenlightministries.com

Will you behold the Lamb of God and pray with me? “Dear God and Father, I understand that you are the Almighty God who has created heaven and earth, and all that is within, including me. I acknowledge my sin and ask you to forgive me based on the sacrificial death of Christ, who was and is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God. Christ died for the sins of the world, and for all who will believe in him, he freely offers spiritual rebirth. I accept this gift, knowing that I therefore become your child—a child of God—and possess eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord. Thank you for saving me from spiritual death. I also ask you to save my family! I am asking today—on this Passover—almost 3,500 years since the first Passover—that you might pass over my home and family and deliver us from death via COVID-19. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you” (Exodus 12:23).

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

Adjusting our Attitudes: A Testimony by Charles Spurgeon

Although this Covid crisis is the greatest global challenge of my lifetime, I think it helps to remember that our world has suffered more deeply—and recovered. It’s just that we weren’t around during the Spanish Flu of 1917-18. We didn’t personally survive World War 1—or the Great Depression at the end of the 30’s, nor did we live through the horrors of World War 2. Now we are facing the possibility of our world—as we’ve known it for our lifetime—coming to an end.

Not long ago, I memorized Psalm 91, and in the process, I came across this reassuring story by Charles Spurgeon (known as “The Prince of Preachers” among western European Protestants):

“In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave myself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words: ‘Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.’ The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passages as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvelous power I adore the Lord my God.” (The Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 91:9-10.)

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10.)

Harriet and Slavery . . . Past and Present

It’s terrifying to face the evils of society. Incredibly painful. Gut-wrenching. We’d rather not even think about it.

Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman

However, the battle between good and evil rages whether or not we’re willing to acknowledge it or engage in the battle.

Leslie Odom Jr. as Abolitionist William Still

Blind eyes and hard hearts allowed the horrors of the death camps where millions of Jews were exterminated during World War 2. Deaf ears and love of comfort allowed the terrors of black slavery that existed before the Civil War in the U.S.

Harriet was helped by Quakers

We like to think that we’d all be abolitionists if we’d lived during the 1800’s . . . but would we?

Harriet is a powerful look into the lives and times of slavery in pre-Civil War America, and I wish everyone would take the time to watch it, even if it makes us wince and lose some sleep.

Harriet Tubman’s Last Words

Harriet recounts the true story of one of America’s bravest women: Harriet Tubman. She was born around 1822 as a slave; she died in 1913 at about age 91 and was an amazing example of courage, faith, self-sacrifice, and compassion.

As a small child, Harriet was beaten every time the white baby she was tending would cry. She recalled being beaten 5 times before breakfast one morning!

Photo of the notice run in the newspaper offering a $100 reward for the capture of “Minty” (Harriet) and her brothers after they escaped in 1849. (Wiki)

Much of her life as portrayed in the 2019 story is consistent with history (with the usual literary license and compacting of some historical events).

It is true that Harriet rescued 70 slaves in 13 expeditions and advised many more.

She usually left on Saturday evenings during winter to avoid detection, because notices about runaway slaves wouldn’t be printed until Monday, and plantation owners didn’t like going outside in the cold to search for themselves.

Harriet experienced visions directing her, which she attributed to God. She was deeply Christian. She really did pray for God to kill her evil master, who died suddenly a week later! (She later expressed ambivalence about her prayer after her cruel master died.)

Nicknamed “Moses” for her God-inspired ability to lead people to freedom, Harriet never lost a single soul: “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger” (Wiki).

During the Civil War, Harriet worked as a nurse and made pies and rootbeer in the evenings to sell so she could support herself.

She also worked as a spy and map maker, and she was one of few women in American history to ever lead an armed assault during war—along the Combahee River, where 750 slaves were freed.

“Unidentified photographer, A large albumen photograph of Harriet Tubman by Tabby Studios in Auburn, NY. Enlarged from an older print.” Public Domain (Wiki)

As an elderly woman, Harriet needed surgery to relieve pain from the childhood head injury she had received, but instead of using anesthesia, she chose to bite down on a bullet, as she’d seen Civil War soldiers do while having their limbs amputated! She was one tough lady!

In honoring Harriet Tubman when her biography was written, the famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, wrote this: “The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day – you in the night. … The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown – of sacred memory – I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.”

If you watch Harriet and lose sleep the way I have, I would like to encourage you to start praying about what you might be able to do to help stop slavery, because slavery is not just an artifact of history. Slavery is very much an alive and evil ongoing issue. In fact, human trafficking is the fastest growing “enterprise” in the world today. Thursday I want to share some information about present day slavery and one avenue for helping fight it.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Traveling with Togo

Want to snuggle up and watch a heart-warming true story about an incredible dog who was named the most heroic dog in history by Time magazine in 2011? This cold winter weather is perfect for staying inside and being glad we’re not actually out in the blizzards of Alaska back in the winter of 1925, when the event actually occurred.

Togo was released at the end of 2019 and has all the dog prints of a true Disney classic: a PG rating, 8.2 on IMDb, great acting, stunning cinematography from Alaska, and full of suspense, courage, and love.

It’s a remarkable story about Togo, a sickly, undersized husky pup with an oversized ability to get into mischief, the heart of a true survivor, and a passion for his master. Willem Dafoe does a masterful job portraying Leonhard Seppala, the stubborn Norwegian who had to balance love for his wife with his professional wisdom as a musher, where wrong decisions can end in death for both the master and his dogs.

The challenge? To bring serum from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska during the worst winter in twenty years during weather too dangerous for flights. Why? Because a diphtheria epidemic was threatening to wipe out most of the area’s people.

Leonard Seppela and his team of huskies crossing Norton Sound of the Bering Sea

Nome, Alaska, is just 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle and is located on the southern coast of Seward Peninsula at Norton Sound along the Bering Sea. Today, there are fewer than 4,000 living in Nome, but due to people lingering after the gold rush at the turn of the century, in 1925 the little outpost of Nome was the largest town in Northern Alaska.

In order to carry the serum across 674 miles from Nenana (where the serum had been transported via train from Anchorage) to Nome, more than twenty teams using over 100 huskies were organized, and the event was widely broadcast as the “Great Race of Mercy.”

Many of us have watched the movie Balto. This movie immortalized the lead dog who ran the last 31 miles to bring the serum into Nome, but Leonhard (which means “lion-heart”) Seppala and his faithful dog Togo ran the penultimate race: 264 miles, sometimes enduring temperatures of —30°F. with wind chills making it feel like —85°F.!! Until this movie came out, Leonhard and Togo were pretty much the unsung and forgotten heroes.

Julianne Nicholson as Constance Seppela in Togo

The race was not for glory, it was for good, and the most magnificent message for me was watching the love, resolve, and reward for the couple who risked everything to save their community. It was unbelievable to me that they didn’t get the praise and glory they deserved, but I think that is more often true in this life than we will ever know. I am reminded of Solomon’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes 9:11, where he laments: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

In our personal pilgrimages through life, few of us are asked to do terribly dangerous and risky things, but all of us are asked to run our race faithfully, for good, and not for glory! But, there is a promise in the example of Jesus, who ran the race before us for joy and for love of God.

May we run our races as doggedly as Togo . . . and like Togo, to please the One we love!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

(Disney’s version of the story runs very close to the reality, although they had a somewhat abbreviated, “happily-ever-after” style ending. If you want to read more of the thrilling [scary] details, there’s an excellent Wikipedia article listed below.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonhard_Seppala

Storms and Sand

Ever hear the story of the schooner Ben Flint? Well, it’s just one of many inspiring tales of heroism and heartache recounted in the Trumans’ book about the Big Sable Point Coast Guard Station on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, not too far from where we live. I’ll share the story of the Ben Flint, and if you’re interested in curling up on a cold winter’s night to read more remarkable accounts of bravery and self-sacrifice, details are at the end. Here’s their first tale:

Back in the autumn of 1870, the two-masted ship Ben Flint left Manistee, Michigan, bound for Chicago, fully loaded with lumber.  Ten miles off shore, the Ben Flint was caught in a gale and started taking on water.  Around ten p.m. the schooner filled with water and rolled over on its side. As the vessel went over, a passenger, Patrick McCuin, fell overboard and drowned.  Captain Thomas Roberts and his crew of eight clung desperately to the portion of the rigging above water.

The ship drifted until about one a.m., when the vessel ran aground approximately four miles north of Grande Pointe au Sable Lighthouse.  As the Ben Flint struck the lake bottom, it righted, but split open.  All of the men then tried to make themselves secure in the rigging, but they remained exposed to the bitterly cold wind and frigid drenching of the waves.  At the beginning of the storm, Captain Roberts had thrown off his coat in order to work more easily, and he died from hypothermia at daylight.

When the Grande Pointe au Sable lighthouse keeper, Alonzo W. Hyde, spotted the wreck from the tower, he recognized the dire need.  In their frozen and exhausted state, the crew could not survive a swim to shore through the tumultuous waves.  The telephone had not yet been invented, and going for help would take too long.  Keeper Hyde knew that he and the assistant light-keeper, his wife Elsa, were the only hope of rescue for the Ben Flint’s crew.  They quickly loaded the lighthouse’s small boat onto a wagon, along with blankets and other supplies, and set off up the beach.  Upon reaching the site of the wreck, the two of them launched their boat and managed to reach the stranded schooner.  After multiple trips, they succeeded in bringing all of the men safely to shore.

The crew reached Manistee by wagon that evening.  The account of the disaster in the Manistee Times said, “All unite in praise of the kindness and heroism of the lighthouse keeper and his lady.  But for their efforts, others and perhaps all would have perished.”

(My friend Grace Truman serves as president of S.O.S. Vermilion, a nonprofit organization working to preserve an 1876 U.S. Life-Saving Service station on Lake Superior near Whitefish Point.  If you are interested in what they’re doing, the website is sosvermilion.org. Grace, her husband, and their son also wrote the book Storms and Sand: A Story of Shipwrecks and the Big Sable Point Coast Guard Station.  It tells the true stories of rescues made by the men of the U.S. Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard at the Big Sable Point station near Ludington. If anyone wants to order a copy, email info@pinewoodspress.com.  The list price is $29.95, but you can get a special price of $20.00 with free shipping and tax included, if you mention “Summer Setting.” Thank you, Grace, for sharing this record of courage and valor! May we be inspired to respond as bravely in emergencies should the need arise, and may we be quick to share with others that Jesus can save!)

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:13).

The Lighthouse
(—Ronny and Kenny Hinson, 1970)

There’s a lighthouse on a hillside
That overlooks life’s sea
When I’m tossed, it sends out
A light that I might see
And the light that shines in darkness now
Will safely lead me thru the night
If it wasn’t for The Lighthouse
My ship would sail no more.

Chorus: And I thank God for The Lighthouse
Well, I owe my life to Him
For Jesus is The Lighthouse
And from the rocks I’ve seen
He has shown a light all around me
That I might clearly see
If it wasn’t for The Lighthouse
Tell me where would this ship be.

Ev’rybody that lives about me
They said tear that lighthouse down
‘Cause the big ships they don’t sail this way anymore
There’s no use of it standing ’round
Then my mind goes back to that stormy night
When just in time, I saw that light
Yes that light from that old lighthouse
That stands up there on the hill.


Weaving Rugs from Rags

Most of us who’ve grown up in church have heard the poem, “The Weaver,” which tells about how God is making something beautiful out of our lives, which we won’t really understand or appreciate in all its glory until we reach heaven.

However, if you’re like me, you may not have had many opportunities in life to actually weave something on a loom, so I wanted to share a little bit about what I learned, not only about the pleasure of weaving a rug from rags, but also about how God weaves our lives.

Bags of scrap material cut into strips

At Ability Weavers, where Cindi, Susan, and I wove our rugs, we were invited to choose as many different types of material as we wanted from a wonderful assortment of fabrics and colors.

After we’d selected our fabrics, Beryl taught us how to wrap the pieces on shuttles. We started by loading 6 shuttles, but it really took much more material than I would have guessed, so I had to go back a couple of times for more cloth!

Each loom had a name. Mine was called “Grandma,” I think because it was one of the original looms. Although the looms were pretty similar, the materials we chose were strikingly different.

I took pleasure in noting that both Susan and Cindi chose materials that complemented the clothing they were wearing (although that had nothing to do with where they were planning to place their rugs)!

Beyond the variations in fabric types and colors, we each got to decide whether or not we wanted a distinct pattern or a more random design. It took us several hours to carefully pass the shuttle through the loom hundreds of times, each time tightening the fabric by pulling (HARD) on the shuttle so that the material wouldn’t unravel.

Something else that surprised me was that we didn’t have to make sure the fabric was always perfectly straight and even. We were told that the twists and turns in the cloth strips just added interest and variation in the pattern and would look just fine when we were all finished. That made the threading process much easier!

I chose three different types of material: upholstery fabric, strips of cloth, and a furry, fuzzy “something” (yarn-like) that I learned later had to be bought special (as opposed to most of the strips, which were cut from scrap materials donated by various businesses).

While weaving, it’s important to keep from putting too much tension on the threads at the end of each line, so that the carpet doesn’t become constricted or misshapen.

As I worked, it was impossible not to consider how the Lord weaves us! You may resent being considered a “rag,” but I do not! Isaiah 64:6 explains it this way: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” We may think we’re pure and holy and good, but God knows we are not, at least not completely. Not yet, as long as we struggle on this earth. As we are taught in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” If you have any doubts about our capacity as humans to be evil, watch the new 2019 documentary, The Devil Next Door (rated 7.7 on IMDb but not for children due to footage of concentration camps during World War 2). This 5-part series delves into the search by our OSI (Office of Special Investigations) to find “Ivan the Terrible,” the sadistically cruel operator of the gas chamber at Treblinka, Poland, who was responsible for the murder of 850,000 people. Alan and I watched it last weekend, and I think it’s one of the most disturbing documentaries I’ve ever seen. I don’t think any of us appreciate our capacity for evil. I’m sure I do not, but I believe what the Bible says.

At any rate (not to be too dark!), in many ways, God lets us weave our own lives, but if we ask Him to be our master and guide, our lives become a wonderful partnership between God’s Holy Spirit and us! God often gives us a huge amount of freedom in choosing the materials and colors and types of fabric that will go into our lives (although He usually prescribes the dark strands of challenging circumstances). We each have a name (“Grandma” fits me just fine!), and although the process of weaving rags into rugs is very similar, the designs and end results are all completely unique and “original,” not only the texture and color, but the size, the shape, and the patterns. All the while we work, just like Beryl was assisting us and helping us when we got stuck, the Holy Spirit instructs and guides us in the process of weaving our lives. Also, there always seems to be an ample supple of material (grace?), so we can keep going back to the store room for more whenever we run out!

Like weavings, our lives requires hundreds of repetitions, a certain amount of banging and pressure to strengthen us so we don’t unravel with use, but not too much tension, or we’ll end up constricted and misshapen. Strangely enough, the twists and turns in the fabric of our lives only add to the beauty and depth of the final product, and if we understand that as we work through life, it helps protect us from too much anxiety over the need to be “perfect” each step of the way!

Anyway, it was such a good experience that I’d love to do it again sometime and am already dreaming of other places where I could “use” another rag rug. Oh, it also occurred to me that each rug was made for a special, unique purpose. Cindi made hers to go beside a bed; Susan is going to place hers at the foot of their stairway, and mine is going to be a table runner for our dining room. God has a special purpose in mind for each of us. Isn’t that a happy thought?

The Weaver

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
(Authorship disputed but public domain)

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:14-18).