Tag Archives: 4th of July

The Lady and the Cross

3 Jul

Sunday Memories

Judy Wills

Reblog from July 2016

I know the July 4th, our country’s Independence Day, has come and gone, but it’s never out of style to be patriotic. Because of the service to our country that my Father, my Father-in-law, my husband, and his brother have done, I find myself fiercely patriotic. I weep when the National Anthem is sung or played. And I am not ashamed of my patriotism.

Many years ago, while in the church choir, we were given a song to sing that touched my heart so much, that I’ve never forgotten it. I would like to print the words below and hope you feel the same patriotism I’ve always felt.

The comparison between our Lady with the Lamp, and the Cross of Christ is absolutely breathtaking.

Credit to Lillenas Publishing Company

Composer and Lyricist Neil Enloe

Arranged by Tom Keene

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson and a great-granddaughter. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

How to Live a Worry-Free Life

4 Jul

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

REBLOGGED July 4, 2020

July 3, 2020

Back in 1970, my parents, my brother age 16 and I age 17 dismissed the 100 degree weather on that 4th of July in St. Louis. Our focus was fixed on that important day that would change our lives.

We entered the courtroom. A hush filled the air and the huge, red, white and blue flag reminded us of the honor we were about to receive.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

“Raise your right hand,” the immigration officer said.

We did, and with unwavering conviction we renounced our allegiance to Bolivia and pledged our allegiance to the United States of America. We were officially citizens. In awe of that privilege, fireworks of gratitude exploded in our hearts.

You might have subtly pledged a different kind of allegiance, too. Many have. As we face the turmoil that stirs in our world today, we make a pitiful allegiance to our emotions.

Have you been there?

On Sundays we worship. During the week we worry. On Sundays we pledge to believe, to obey and follow God. We commit to embrace his Word and hold on to His promises.

But when we hear another statistic about the virus or see images of the violence, our pledge to trust in God is broken. We then enter a foreign country where the language of fear is spoken. Before we know it, we become citizens of that land of worry.

How can that happen? 

God says not to worry, but we do. He repeats to trust in Him, but we doubt. He offers peace, but we dismiss it.

But the good news is that if we renew our allegiance to His instructions, we will speak the language of faith. It will express His strength, enough to sustain us. It will repeat of His love, enough to cover us. And of His grace to bring out the perfect outcome. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).

And with worry in the garbage disposal of life, we sing, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

So why do we doubt, shake or fret? After all, we know:

Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalm 91:3-6)

No matter the bad news, the violence, the unrest, the division, or uncertainty, we are governed by Almighty God. We’re citizens of His Kingdom. And with Christ Jesus as the general in charge of our lives, we follow Him as He leads us to victory.

When we wonder if we’ll have enough for tomorrow, the wonder of His provision is enough for each day.

Let’s Pray

Father, thank you for the reassurance that You have me and my family covered for today and all our tomorrows. Thank You for the sleep that comes at night as you silence the turmoil around us. I praise you for the reassurance You whisper into my heart, removing worry from my mind. In Jesus name.

When will you begin your worry-free life?



Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.

Looking for a speaker for your upcoming event? A great speaker makes the difference between a so-so event and one that shines with impact. I invite you to view one of my two-minute videos HERE.

Please shareFeel free to share Janet’s posts with your friends.

This uplifting message comes to you from JC Empowerment Ministries. JC Empowerment is dedicated to bringing the light of God’s Word into dark places. The ministry survives only through donations from readers like you. Please consider partnering with us through your tax-deductible support. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Let’s connect:

Janet Eckles Perez

Some say she should be the last person to be dancing. Her life is summarized in this 3-minute video: http://bit.ly/1a8wGJR

Janet Perez Eckles’ story of triumph is marked by her work as an international speaker, #1 best-selling author, radio host, personal success coach and master interpreter. Although blind since 31, her passion is to help you see the best of life.


Life During Covid 19-Part 17

3 Jul

I am Weary

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I’ve been in a bit of a slump. I checked past posts and saw that I haven’t written anything since June 16, when we were back home in the mountains.

In a normal time, we would be firmly ensconced for the summer and fall and welcoming houseguests. But these aren’t normal times. Two weeks was not enough! We returned to Florida for my husband to have a scheduled surgery.

It’s really hot here. I think I have had trouble adjusting from open windows and cool mornings on the porch to sweltering heat and non-stop air-conditioning. (Having spent my entire life in Florida, one would think I would be accustomed to it.) Or maybe I am simply Covid weary.

I am weary of people being angry and the great mask debate. I am weary of worrying about the people who are out of work. I am weary of wondering how our economy can possibly survive this massive shut down. I am weary of the isolation which draws me deeper into my usual introvert state.

And I am weary of trying to decide if our planned road trip needs to be cancelled. That sounds trite. I know. We had a health scare with my husband last week. He is fine now, but we really wanted to do this trip while he is able.

Yet in the midst of the weariness, I am thankful and blessed.

I am thankful for my friend, Pam, whose indomitable spirit and gift for chatter lifted my spirits this week. I am thankful for my friend and mentor, DiVoran, who understands my unsociable state and loves me still.

I am thankful my husband is doing well, his surgery is rescheduled and we may be able to return to the mountains in a few weeks. And I am thankful our daughter, who works from home has time off to visit with a friend for the weekend. She badly needed the break.

Most of all I am thankful for my faith in God that sustains me when I walk through shadows and teaches my heart to trust in Him. I read Psalm 57:1 this week, written by David when he fled from Saul into the cave. I especially related to the last two lines.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!

For my soul trusts in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,

Until these calamities have passed by.

In a morning meditation I remembered an old hymn my Depression era parents would sing. I looked it up on You Tube and found this one by a group called Grace Thrillers from 6 years ago. Beautiful and I like that the video showcases scripture rather than images of the singers.

Wishing our American readers a happy, healthy and blessed 4th of July. It’s a special day for our family, my mother’s birthday. She loved her dog Max, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

For Mom and Country

4 Jul

Title is a play off the name of a Christian band, For King and Country, one of my daughter’s favorite bands.

My mom was a fiery lady, full of fun but didn’t take any guff. Maybe the guff part came from growing up during the Great Depression in a tenant farmer family of 3 boys and 9 girls. The girls worked the fields, picking cotton and barning tobacco alongside their elder brother. The other two boys came along later, once they had moved to town.

All of her siblings grew to become successful adults, some owning businesses, raising families and living a better quality of life than their parents, at least materially.

That is one of the things I love about my country. With hard work, one does not have to remain in the circumstances of their childhood.

Today was her birthday and I find it fitting that she was born on a day celebrated with fireworks, food and family. She moved to Glory 18 yrs ago and I still miss her.

Bargains, Blooms and Heaven Too.

6 Jul

On the Porch
Onisha Ellis


Have you noticed as one gets older, that days seem to speed by and you can’t really remember where the last week went? Maybe if something exciting happens I can recall that, but for the most part, days and weeks are a blur.

As a child, I couldn’t imagine enjoying heaven where each day would stretch into eternity and I would be bored to tears singing praise songs. Now my quirky mind is wondering if the sensation of time speeding up is preparation for eternity. I can easily see myself  having no clue how long I have been there, that is a good thing, but I sure hope heaven doesn’t include endless repetition of the same eight to ten words like praise songs at church. Somehow I believe the songs will be more creative and glorious.

I did have some excitement last week. Big Lots has a bread rack with reduced prices. When we made our weekly visit to check out their choices, I was thrilled to find Artisan Bread by Sara Lee. I love this bread. It is the closest to home made taste that I have found. It’s too pricey for me to have often unless I find it at Big Lots so I stocked up!



Our Hydrangea continue to bless up with abundant blooms and I am enjoying them. Yesterday my husband cut some beauties to enjoy inside. While I was stripping off the leaves, I accidentally pulled off some small blooming branches. I looked around the dining and kitchen area for a suitable vessel and spied a small blue bowl and pitcher set.  We had given to  my husband’s mom as a souvenir of one of our trips to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It depicts Clingman’s Dome. Her birthday is this month, so I decided it was a perfect way to honor her memory. She raised five boys and loved them dearly.



Our July 4th celebration was on the quiet side. Our grandson came over in the evening to have supper with us and watch our neighbor’s fireworks.  It was good to have one on one time. He is growing up to be an interesting young man. The neighbor out did his previous years efforts. Of course the one that went awry was kind of exciting. Nothing like having a ball of glowing green fire heading straight at you!

It seems fireworks can be purchased as a boxed set, just like books!


My cousin, Diane Murphy passed away this week. I like to think of the heavens lighting up to welcome her home. She was dearly loved.


At her son’s wedding


5 Jul

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”
Lee Greenwood


I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.


Independence Day Fireworks

4 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Chapter 32 Fireworks

Fireworks are so exciting! Because he’s a pyromaniac, Bill loves them even more than I do. We knew the father and uncle of a family who every year bought bags full of fireworks and got together to blow them up on the Fourth of July. Not long ago, Bill and I were invited to that party. The kids danced and whooped as sparks boogied around their feet. An adult brought out lawn chairs for Bill and me assuring us that we sat well out of the line of fire. Two dogs stayed in the house, and I could hear the big one barking. I knew the tea-cup poodle, who was my friend, would be shivering with fear. She’d go up against any big dog anytime, but loud noises scared her. Suddenly a feisty spark landed on my bare arm, and that was enough fireworks for me. I went into the house to comfort the poor dogs and sang to them while the outside part of the gathering lasted.

Most July Fourths we drove to whatever body of water the town elders selected to reflect their extravagances. When I was a kid, our tiny community raised the money for a grand display. The town leaders went to the other side of the reservoir and arranged the fireworks for the show. The only hitch was that, as we heard later, a match fell into the main box and then all the combustibles exploded in bursts of color and sound. Unforgettable!

I can’t omit the other sort of fireworks, though it was not on Independence Day. I experienced it when Bill got a visitor’s pass for me to go out by the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) to watch the launch of the Apollo Twelve. The team of engineers he worked with effected the separation of the first stage from the second stage on the moon-landing vehicle by installing the explosives that separated the two parts. On this launch day the orange and white exhaust-plume against the blue sky was gorgeous, but the hurrahs of the crowd and the pulsating roar of the engines that seemed to shake the entire planet under my feet and travel though my body were so meaningful and unexpected that they made me want to cry.

Because of my fear, the fireworks loving family were kind enough not to ask us back for that particular holiday. Since we don’t have kids around anymore we don’t get in the car and go to wherever the pyrotechnics are. We may watch a few on Face Book or T. V., and we hear them from the neighborhood into the early morning hours, but that’s it. It’s not that we don’t appreciate all the reasons we are still an independent country, it’s just that we have found another way to be independent no matter where we are. We do it by learning to depend on Christ Jesus, Our Father, and the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance through all the joys and troubles of life. We know that dependence by many people in the past and present is the answer to the question, what has made America the greatest country in the world. “God bless America,” land that I love. May He stand beside her and guide her through the night with His light from above and within.


“God Bless America,” Kate Smith

Hope For Our Country

4 Jul

My Take
DiVoran Lites

Happy Independence Day. Will you be having a cookout, going to a parade, going to the beach, setting off firecrackers, or sitting in the shade drinking lemonade? Author, Poet and ArtistMaybe all of the above?
I love our beautiful world and this country called America, which God has made. Some people may malign us, but at the same time others are doing everything in their power to come here for a new start. No red-blooded American is going to argue that we still have the greatest country in the world. Is it possible God had a hand in that?

I have to admit I am shocked when I hear some of the things politicians in this great country have done. Think of when they killed off the bison so the Indians would die out and when they deliberately infected Native Americans with smallpox so they could take their land.

It appalls me to learn more every day about how bad slavery was. Yet I personally met an African man who explained the scars carved in his cheeks by saying they were proof that he belonged to a tribe that had once captured other villages and sold them to become slaves. He and his wife were in America getting an education. If we focus on badness we will see it everywhere, not just here.
The Dust Bowl was a result of our leaders manipulating the mid-American grasslands until they were exhausted and turned to dust.

The Great Depression was influenced by the Dust Bowl and both came from foolish decisions by the money-mongers in the country, not by ordinary families.
I hear people talking as if they believe the present time is the worst in our history, but what I always wonder is whether those who experienced the disasters I’ve mentioned knew their own time was the worst in American history. It was and they did, but we want to remember this one thing. Our country is a survivor due to those little people that some leaders and officials think don’t count.

Who are we to believe, then? The gov? Or God?

My take is that we are making a mistake if we think politicians good or bad are in control. They are not. Guess who really is. Right, God. God has His plans and He will see that they are fulfilled, every single one of them whether we vote for Him or not. He does however appreciate our cooperation as he does His work through us.
While the events I’ve mentioned were deeply hurtful and themselves left terrible wounds, they have all passed. In 1956 President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation making the phrase, “In God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States and required it to be included on all U. S. currency. Do we believe it or don’t we? Taking it off the money will cost a lot, but won’t change the answer.

Voting is good. Voting is essential. Peaceful demonstrations are still legal as far as I know. We still have freedom of speech even though we are afraid we’re going to lose it. Signing petitions helps our elected officials know what we little people want. Telling the truth helps and so does morality. Trust and faith in God make us stronger, wiser, and happier. Let’s hear a cheer for the grassroots givers, teachers, helpers, mothers and fathers and the people who lift up holy hands in all kinds of service to their country. It is not we who are in charge, this is not our country, it is God’s country and He still has a plan for America.
“…the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that the flag was still there.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

LUKE 14 : 11

From Pollywog to Shellback

4 Jul

I wanted our offering today to have a patriotic theme but not necessarily flag waving. We know how hard our military trains and sacrifices for our freedom but we don’t always know about their “fun” traditions. Bill kindly agreed to share his experience of progressing from Pollywog to Shellback. I enjoy this kind of story; if you have one I would love for you to share it- Onisha

  Go Navy

      By Bill Lites

I went into the U.S. Navy when I was eighteen years old. No war raged at the time, but I had plenty of adventures.  The one thing I remember most clearly wasn’t boot camp with its marching, fire fighting, and KP duty, nor was it swabbing decks, painting everything that didn’t move, or midnight watches out in the freezing weather, once I was aboard ship. The thing I remember most is crossing the equator.

My first ship assignment out of boot camp was the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea. After a 6-month cruise to the Mediterranean, the ship was scheduled for a complete two-year overhaul in the New York shipyards.  However, the NY yards were full, so the ship was reassigned to the Bremerton shipyards in Washington State.  The ship was too big to go through the Panama Canal, so we had to sail all the way around South America to get to Bremerton.  That’s how I ended up changing my status from “Pollywog” to “Shellback” in U.S. Navy terms.

Before Modification

After Modification


The restrictions on initiations for Navy traditions in the late 1950’s were far less than they are today.  The “Pollywogs” were lined up, in our dungarees on the flight deck, where the ship’s “Shellbacks” had setup the festivities.





We were brought before “King Neptunus Rex” and his “Royal Court” for trial and sentencing.  First, we had to run the “gauntlet”- wet canvas clubs filled with rags.  Then on to the “tunnel of fear”- a tube,  barely large enough to crawl through on our elbows, filled with garbage. Unfortunately, this had made some of the guys going through before me sick, and that only added to the stench.   As we exited the tube, we were hit with a fire hose to clean us up so we could pay homage to the “Royal Family”. The “Royal Baby” was one of the fattest guys I’d ever seen.  “Davy Jones” would smear his huge belly with mustard as we were forced to our knees to kiss his “Royal Belly Button.”  As we did, “Baby” pulled our head into his stomach so our entire face was covered with mustard.  Then it was on to the dunking pool where we had to “Walk The Plank” as we were pelted with rotten garbage and dumped into the pool.  There were other equally gross things we had to do but I’ve managed in erasing most of them from my memory.

As you can see, it was an experience I remember well.  When you couple that with the “Crossing the International Dateline” which I did the next year on a different ship on the way to Japan you can see how these were the memorable experiences in my otherwise mundane U.S. Navy career.

I’ve heard the saying, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” I looked it up. It was the last line of John Milton’s poem, “On His Blindness,” written after he went blind. It comforts me to know that although I didn’t serve in a war, still I did my best to serve my country.

What I’ve come to understand is that no matter how talented and skillful we are, or what disabilities we may have, everyone was created by God for a purpose and has a place in this world.

Psalm 139

Order of the Rock – Transitioning the Rock of Gibraltar

Order of the Deep – Crossing the Equator

Order of the Golden Dragon – International Date Line

Typical Order of the Deep Certificate

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