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An Inauguration Love Story

At home in Crestline, I was buzzing about the kitchen, hearing in the background conservative talk show host, Mike Gallagher, when my attention was grabbed by his saying something about having a Democratic wife and a Democratic son. Whoa! What’s this? I thought. For though I am not terribly familiar with Mr. Gallagher, over a number of years, I have heard him occasionally and know him to have conservative leanings; I’m quite sure he is not a Democrat.

I knew too that some time during the past few months his wife, Denise, had died of cancer.

On the radio this morning, Mike continued with his friendly, upbeat manner, describing how his son Matthew–following in the steps of his mother–adored President-elect Obama, and how that Santa Claus had provided hotel arrangements and money for transportation to Washington D. C. for Matthew and some of his friends. Soon Mike had Matthew on the air, where they spoke in light-hearted manners of the trip and the excitement of the scene in Washington on this the day before the inauguration of our 44th president.

Before I finish this post, please read the following which I took from Mike Gallagher’s website.

Mike’s proudest achievement is his family. On the morning of June 29, 2008, the love of his life, his wife Denise, died at home after a valiant and dignified year-long battle with endometrial cancer. She passed away the day before her 52nd birthday. Mike was holding her when she died, their four boys — Bryan, Trevor, Matthew, and Micah — all present as well, which is just how Denise wanted it. Two of the Gallagher sons live in South Carolina, and the other two live near Mike, which is a great comfort to him. As he promised to Denise, Mike is sleeping each night with beloved beagle Buster and puggle Rory, who constantly shadowed her every move but now seem quite content to take care of him.

On the radio this morning, I heard a love story. I listened in as Mike Gallagher told his son. “I sprinkled your mother’s ashes over Washington D.C a few hours ago, Matthew.” He paused, then added. “I think she would have liked that.”

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O’Keefe’s Fiftieth Part II

as I said, fishes swam in some of the centerpieces; all the decorations were striking. The food was delicious, the company was capital, the weather was balmy…and the honored couple were handsome, beautiful, witty, and certainly worthy.

We indulged in tasty appetizers beautifully presented on the front lawn; we ate beef and chicken and drank sparkling cider, and proposed toasts. We laughed at the entertainment, and watched with fascination, as by video, each family in the church lifted a congratulatory glass and spoke words of love and endearment to the O’Keefes. We heard accolades from their sons and from their friends.

We ate cake, and Abby teased.

It was a spectacular event; I cannot recall a more beautiful, handsomely done celebration.

In response to Abby’s long-standing mantra, Don lifted a singular toast. Her mantra? “Drink your milk, Don. Milk drinkers make better lovers.”

They are quite a couple, Don and Abby O’Keefe, married now 50 years; fun-loving, godly, accomplished, successful, and having accumulated a wide circle of adoring friends.

Congratulations once again to a very dear couple.

Click on these pictures and they will enlarge.

(Within the next few days, I will be posting many more pictures of this event on my Flicker page.)

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My devotional blog is here.

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People of Grand Canyon

As spectacular as is the Grand Canyon, the experience of a visit there is only enhanced by the observation, stories, and study of the people who in time past–or in time present–have moved through the area.

Making a unique contribution to the settling of the West was Fred Harvey who came to be known as the “Civilizer of the West.” Born in London, he came to America at the age of 15 and finally became a railroad man.

“He clerked for the first mail train and was a traveling freight agent for the Burlington. His fastidious English tastes revolted at the unpalatable dry biscuits, the greasy ham-leather and the week old coffee. The dirty, fly-ridden quarters and the all-too-prevalent custom of fleecing travelers ‘who wouldn’t be back anyways,’ made Harvey angry enough to change things.”

He established hotels and unique restaurants along the route of the Santa Fe through Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California. “Rivaling the good food and modern accoutrements that Fred Harvey brought to the West were his “Harvey Girls”–pretty, well-trained waitresses. The girls were recruited from good homes in the East and had a major part in taming the West. The Harvey Girls brought culture, refinement and romance.” Territorial News

The lovely El Tovar where Jerry and I had lunch was built in 1905 and was one of the original Harvey Houses.

I’ve already told you of Buckey O’Neill who was in great part responsible for bringing the railway to the Grand Canyon, and I promised a little tale about his cabin there. It stands along the main Rim Trail that Jerry and I walked to the village, and just outside his cabin is a placard–typical kind of thing that identifies the structure and gives a bit of its history. Jerry stood reading there, and I followed the short walk up to the cabin. It has those doors that are split so that the top half can swing open while the lower part is still closed.

The top half of the door was ajar, and because I wanted to see all the way inside, I swung the door completely open. They are really making this place look authentic, I was thinking, for there were clothes piled around the floor and a general appearance of dissaray. Something is not right here, I felt and then I noticed candy bar wrappers and other modern day notions…hmm.

I closed the door, walked a few steps to the other door of the cabin that was styled in the same way, swung it open and there stood a man. A television was playing, and his eyes were stuck on the screen, then slowly he lifted them and looked at me. He didn’t smile. I didn’t smile. I closed the door, turned around and walked to stand beside Jerry.

When Jerry reads this it will be his first knowledge of this dark secret. The reason I didn’t tell him is because he is always saying I wander off too much, and it is an accurate observation that I have been known to explore in places that were best left undiscovered. Truth be known, I just wasn’t in the mood to confess that evidently I had intruded into someone’s personal space.

Well, anyway, it wasn’t my fault, for there for nothing to indicate the cabin as being anything other than a historical building–the cabin of Buckey O’Neill. No signs, no warnings. Later, though, in some material I read that they sometimes rent out the cabin. …(sorry about that, somebody.)

The last person I want to mention is Earl, who was the host of our railroad car for the return trip to Williams. Probably in his seventies, it was obvious from the beginning of our little more than two hours together that he was an exceptional person. He was kind and loving. He bent low over the seats and hugged the children and told simple jokes. About 15 minutes out of Williams he pointed to a road where it intersected the railroad and told us he lived up that way in a small community.

“It’s a good place to live,” he said. “We look out for each other.”

Before we left the train he walked the full length of the car, shook hands with everyone there, and hugged the children again.

“Thank you for riding my car today,” he spoke into the microphone just before we pulled into the station. “Thank you. I love you. God bless you.”

Earl…I may never see him again…chance points to that…but somehow that Saturday evening, I believed him. I believe he has the capacity to really love people, people he doesn’t know and will likely never see again. For a couple of hours that Saturday as Jerry and I concluded our anniversary trip, Earl loved us, too. I think I love him back.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Train, Terrain and Thistle

 

 

The Territorial Times says it “wasn’t the cowboys and it wasn’t the cavalry, but the iron horse that finally conquered the West’s great wilderness. And there’s no better example of hidden treasures revealed by the locomotive’s journey west than the Grand Canyon.”

It is Bucky O’Neill who is responsible in great part for making the original Grand Canyon Railroad a reality. Possessing a number of copper claims near Williams, AZ., he also had staked several in the Grand Canyon area, and actually had built a cabin there. (I’ll tell you of my experience with that cabin later.)

He began lobbying for such development in Chicago and New York, and finally, in 1901,  after many delays and disappointments the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail Company opened the legendary Grand Canyon Railroad. In addition to hauling copper and ore, the train became the preferred method of transportation for tourists interested in visiting the Grand Canyon. The railroad line thrived.

Unfortunately Mr. O’Neill never saw the fulfillment of his dream. Serving with great distinction as one of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders, he was killed by a Spanish sniper and today rests in Arlington.

The Railway revolutionized the canyon, sharing its natural wonder with the general public. In its heyday, Grand Canyon Railway had two scheduled arrivals per day at the South Rim, but as many as six special trains might also arrive at the Grand Canyon in one day. Notable, famous people traveled this rail.

And then came the automobile and “as America fell in love with the automobile, the locomotive’s romantic wail faded like an Arizona sunset.” (Territorial Times)

“The final rays of golden sunlight disappeared June 30, l968 as Train No. 14, a diesel locomotive pulling only one b aggage car and one coach car left Grand Canyon Depot with just three people aboard. Beginning the 65-mile trek to Williams, the engineer gave the horn two short blasts heard only by those aboard and canyon wildlife. No one was present to send the train off, or to celebrate the contributions the Railway had made.

As the last passenger train traveled out of sight, the tracks grew quiet and stayed that way for nearly 20 years.” Territorial Times

Then in 1989, after an initial investment of 15 million dollars, Max and Thelma Biegert brought back the powerful pull of the steam locomotive to the Grand Canyon National Park. Since then it has transported more than 2 million people, and every year now offers the joy of the restored Railway to 225,000 passengers.

When we arrived in Williams on Friday morning, I was surprised to see the large number of cars and to learn that the train is not a narrow guage as we had ridden in Durango last year, but a full sized train  including an observation car, a cafe car and one with first class, white glove treatment. Ours was an air conditioned coach that rode smoothly for the 2 hour and 15 minute trek to the Grand Canyon.

We had a charming young woman as hostess who passed around soft drinks, and answered any questions about the Canyon, tours and best places to eat. Then a fiddler entered our car and regaled us with humor and excellent blues type fiddling.

The terrain I observed through the large windows was rather scrubby, but shortly before we pulled into the depot at the Grand Canyon the appearance changed somewhat. The altitude at the South Rim is 7000 and there is little rainfall in this semi-arid high desert area which gives to rather scrubby plant life.

As Jerry and I walked around the canyon area, I spied this strikiing, cottony looking plant. I have no idea of its name, although it resembles thistle blooms.

Cactus abounded.

 

…and trees, their clear green leaves fluttering in the cool breezes.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Check in Here for Perfection

From time to time we humans spend hours that in the earthly scheme of things can only be rated perfect. Such were our days–Jerry’s and mine–this past Friday and Saturday on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

The signal for the trip was rare, and its lofty nature of such significance that within our minds spun an expectation of pleasure and harmony beginning with the earliest moment of  planning. On Friday Jerry and I stepped over another milestone in our lives as we embarked on our 53rd year of marriage.

The Grand Canyon is surely one of the most spectacular places on earth. In 1893 it was established as a forest reserve by President Benjamin Harrison, and in 1919, by President Theodore Roosevelt, was designated a national monument. The park is 277 river-miles long, an average of ten miles wide, and to reach the canyon floor requires a plunge one mile deep. Snaking a thin line at the base of the cliffs is the thundering Colorado River, without which there would be no Grand Canyon. It’s cool waters lunge and roar exploding in spume and foam…and then, again, lie placid and in a soft meander.

We always have this conversation, Jerry and I: What do you suspose was the reaction of the first person or group who viewed such a stunning place?  How in the world did they feel as they stood before this gaping chasm?  We never have an answer, of course, and as overwhelming as it is to view after hearing of it and even at prior times seeing it, we shake our heads as we think of the staggering awe that must have settled on those early explorers as they stood before that bucolic shrine. 

We had visited both the south and north rim of the Grand Canyon many years ago when our children were young, and we viewed it as not only beautiful and awe inspiring, but as educational both for them and for us. As was true then, so now remains my frustration when I reach to describe that world-wondering scene. I grapple with words–is it that I need new langugage?–to write the land lay, the pitch of bird caw and the beating of wings. The rustle in the wind-brushed pinions meld with squirrel scramper and the faint sizzle of green lizard on white boulder.

Ultimately, such grandeur could only be carved by Almighty. Doubtless, He used geological forces and wind-swept eons, but the sight and sound of such magnificence demands a Creator, One whose thought and ways are impossible to comprehend. Words to tell are shy and impaired.

Laid atop such undergirding were two days of sublime rest and celebration. We checked in and found perfection.

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My devotional blog is here.

 

 
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Chugging to the Grand Canyon

 

 Today is our anniversary, Jerry and I, and we are off  to see again the majestic Grand Canyon. God has blessed us with 52 wonderful years together and we’re both excited about our little trip.

W’re leaving Lake Havasu at 6:30 heading for Williams, AZ which is about 160 miles away. There we will board a train for a rail journey of a little more than two hours, our destination being the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We will spend the night in a lodge there, and around 3:00 on Saturday will reboard for the return trip to Williams. Sounds like fun, huh?

One of the web sites describes the trip in this way:

Grand Canyon Railway TrainStep aboard Grand Canyon Railway for a trip to the Majestic Grand Canyon you’ll never forget. Feel the rumble of a vintage train as the engine chugs 65 miles across beautiful Northern Arizona countryside. The train offers kaleidoscopic views of the San Francisco Peaks and rolls through valleys adorned in wild flowers, dense pine forest, high desert plains and small canyons.

The excitement begins at the historic 1908 Williams Depot. Before the train departs you can enjoy a wild west shootout featuring the Cataract Creek Gang in an outdoor theater, visit the free railroad museum or browse through the gift shops.

Conductor of the Grand Canyon RailwayOn hearing the train whistle pierce the fresh morning air, beckoning passengers for a trip, a vintage steam engine pulls the train from Memorial Day through September 30. (A vintage diesel engine does the job the remainder of the year.) Uniformed coach attendants provide you with white-gloved courtesy and service. Aboard the train, enjoy the tunes of strolling musicians who conduct sing-a-longs, an old west train robbery and the antics of western characters as they recreate train travel as it was in 1901.

The train arrives at the historic 1910 Grand Canyon Depot. It is among three remaining log depots still in operation in the United States. Buildings like the El Tovar Hotel, Hopi House and Bright Angel Lodge salute arriving guests as they pull into the station and disembark from the train. Set unobtrusively among the landscape, Grand Canyon Village gives no hint of the majesty that lay beyond.

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I’ll be taking lots of pictures and when we return will tell of our great adventures.

 

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A Day of Shame in California

Yesterday was a shameful day in California. For on that day, the California Supreme Court ruled that a law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman is unconstitutional.

This is outrageous. Christianity and every other major religion speaks for marriage in this way. Furthermore, overwhelmingly passed in 2000 by the constituents of California was Proposition 22, a statue protecting traditional marriage, defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

In handing yesterday’s decision, these four liberal judges blatantly disregarded the will of the people. Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan dissented.


Justice Ming Chin Justice Marvin Baxter Justice Carol Corrigan

Justice Baxter writes:

The court majority “does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.

I’m certainly far from the only person feeling outrage about this development.

The president of the Campaign for Children and Families, reacted with dismay, insisting “marriage is naturally for a man and a woman.”

“If the institution of marriage is redefined and therefore destroyed in the law, the wellbeing of children is threatened, both emotionally, socially, even physically,” Thomasson added.

A coalition of religious and social conservative groups have vowed to attempt to add a vote calling for a ban on same-sex marriage when California goes to the polls in November’s election.

Perhaps our shame can be mitigated, and this unrighteous and unfair ruling will be reversed.

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Today’s Three Unique Women

In the news today are stories of three unique women. Take a look at these interesting people.

The first is Jenna Bush who today at the ranch in Crawford will be married to Henry Hager. The link shows lots of pictures including the caravan of cars traveling to the rehearsal dinner, decorations in the little town, and souvenirs being sold in the shops. I wish this couple a long and happy life together.

EDIT SUNDAY NIGHT: Pictures from the wedding.

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  • May 10: President George W. Bush and Jenna Bush prior to Jenna’s wedding to Henry Hager at Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The second one remembers everything she has done since she was fourteen years old.

Jill Price, 42, can remember every part of her life since she was 14 but considers her ability a curse as she cannot switch off.

She described her life as like a split-screen television, with one side showing what she is doing in the present, and the other showing the memories which she cannot hold back.

Every detail about every day since 1980 – what time she got up, who she met, what she did, even what she ate – is locked in her brain and can be released to come flooding back by common triggers like songs, smells or place names.

From Daily News

The last one, Jenny, is celebrating a significant birthday.

The world’s oldest gorilla celebrated her 55th birthday today with a four-layer frozen fruit cake and banana leaf-wrapped treats.

Jenny’s caretakers at the Dallas Zoo say she’s having a few joint issues and her eyesight isn’t what it used to be but she still looks good for an old ape.

“It’s a special milestone for us,” said Todd Bowsher, curator of the zoo’s Wilds of Africa exhibit. “It signifies that we’ve made great strides in veterinary care, nutrition and animal husbandry.”

From AP News

Three unique women…wish them all well…and you–wish you well also.

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My devotional blog is here.

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To Speak Against Evil

In a column I wrote a few days I raised the question as to whether those who believe in allowing same sex marriages would also condone the marriage of a father and daughter, and, I further asked, “Why? Why not?” Nearly everyone who has responded to that discussion has expressed disgust and revulsion at the thought of a parent/child relationship, although no one has identified himself as approving same sex marriages.

Over recent days, another story concerning sexual and other abuse has developed. A raid of a polygamist ranch in Eldorado, Texas, and the rescuing of several hundred children and women who were there has gripped the hearts of the world, for now it comes to light that when girls in the compound reached puberty they were then “spiritually” married to much older men. Several of these rescued girls are now found to be pregnant.

ELDORADO, Texas — A polygamist compound with hundreds of children was rife with sexual abuse, child welfare officials allege in court documents, with girls spiritually married to much older men as soon as they reached puberty and boys groomed to perpetuate the cycle.

The documents released Tuesday also gave details about the hushed phone calls that triggered the raid, by a 16-year-old girl at the West Texas ranch who said her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her.

More here.

A reader of my previous column to which I have referred made the following comment that I want to share with you here.

Our revulsion to such things is not merely a matter of Christian faith, but nature itself is opposed to it. I suspect that human frailty is being manipulated by a supernatural evil that brings darkness to the truth. Men and women were made for each other. Their very bodies allow a marital unity that fosters both true fidelity and the fruitfulness of children. Homosexuality feigns the marital act with violence and perversion. Fathers and mothers are to regard their children always as their children, safeguarding their innocence and purity, preparing them to be good and wholesome adults. A true father and mother gain a son or daughter with marriage. They must never allow themselves to think of their children in a sexual way. Our culture is over-sexed. Pornography breaks down the family bonds. Sexuality is reduced to pleasure for its own sake. We worship youth and the body. This graphic sexuality is the root of pederasty, pedophilia and incest. Again, I think the devil has a hand in darkening consciences. A parent should be willing to die to preserve his child’s well being. Incest does incalculable harm and distorts the personality. Nature itself is offended and genetic problems often emerge in the children produced.

These staggering stories scream for us to continue to speak to the evil of the world, and to refuse to be intimidated by those who would say it is none of our business. It is our business. We are our brothers keepers. As I considered this issue, I thought of the following poem:

Martin Niemöller
First they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Social Democrats
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Social Democrat.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out–because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me

We must speak out for children, for the abused, for the weak, the fearful and frightened. We must speak against evil and against moral decay. We must speak up for God, for His Word, and for righteousness. For if we do not…finally, there will be no one to speak for us.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Incest and Same Sex Marriages

Today was one of the exceptional times when I had the opportunity to listen to my favorite talk show host, Dennis Prager, and although I couldn’t sit down and hear every word, I did have the radio on for the full three-hour segment, and heard bits and pieces of everything. I was stunned to hear of the following account of a father and daughter who have confessed to having a sexual relationship and of producing more than one baby. I was fascinated by the question Dennis posed to his audience:

“Do you listeners who believe in same sex marriage, have a problem with a father/daughter sexual relationship? Why? Why not?”

Scandal … Jennifer and John Deaves tell their story.

In this article, the couple tells of falling in love, of divorcing their spouses so they could be together, and tell of the children they produced. The former wife of the man reveals how it felt to have her husband run off with his daughter. You may also be interested in seeing a video of a psychologist who speaks to the damage such relationships do to children.

I wasn’t able to hear one response on the radio today, but I’d like to extend the same platform here on my blog, asking the same question.

My definite opinion is that incest and same sex marriage is wrong in every way: morally, culturally and emotionally. The sanctioning of such skewed relationships will lend (and is lending) to the downfall of our society. Once morality is set aside, how can there be limits? What would limit such a society? Both incest and same sex marriages are despicable.

I want to hear your thoughts and any insight you may have.

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My devotional blog is here.