Memorial Day – May 29, 2017


From left, Bill, his brother David and wife, Linda, and yours truly.

We were so happy and blessed to be able to attend the third annual Memorial Day event at the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. We remember fondly the event from 2015, written about here in case you missed it. We didn’t think that day could be topped but this years event was equally wonderful. This post will be mainly photos of the wonderful displays.

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Memorial Day (2015 & 2017)


On Monday, May 25, 2015, at the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois.

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”  -Gen Logan, 1858

This quote was taken from someone I respect and follow, click here for her blogger’s post – which I just read. I’m a bit behind. We’re probably like many Americans. Memorial Day is a day off from work, a day to picnic and be with family and shop a few sales. My dad was a real patriot, but I don’t remember him making a big deal about the holiday – other than we had a family cook out for most of my adult life.

Finally, in 2015, we were able to really understand and participate in a wonderful Memorial Day “celebration.” Which is really strange, to celebrate those who gave their lives so we could live in the land of the free? My blogger friend  also addresses this issue.

Fortunately, we were invited to attend this event by my husband’s brother, David Lees and his wife, Linda. David works with Dr. Mark Murfin. Dr. Murfin recruited David to become a Civil War re-enactor years ago. Dr. Murfin then discovered this cause, the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. I’m sure he is familiar with the above quote, because that is what drove him to start a wonderful tradition….and it continues. We missed last year (2016), but were so happy to be able to attend this year (2017).


May 25, 2015 David and Linda


Dr. Mark Murfin (a general surgeon) opens up the program in 2015.


We were treated to a wonderful picnic – the meat was provided and we all brought covered dishes to round out the meal. I decided to include this picture instead of all the food and other festivities. My brother-in-law with his colleague, Dr. Mark Murfin, founder of this wonderful new tradition. These two re-enactors have traveled to many events. Now they have one close to their hometowns!

The Vernon G.A.R. Park was established on October 28, 1893 after Elbridge Robinson and his wife, Martha, donated and deeded one acre of ground to the Trustees of James L. Jones, Post #632 Grand Army of the Republic. Regarding the land transfer, Robinson declared:

… the said trustees, on consideration of being deemed said above described plat of ground, agree to hold and care for the same as a Memorial Park and place and keep a flag pole at the center from which the national colors are to be housed on all state and national public days so long as said post remains in existence. When said post ceases to exist, the said plat of ground… to go to the village of Vernon so long as said village uses the same as a Memorial Park, hoisting the national flag on all state and national public holidays, and cared for the grounds and trees as the trustees of the said post did….

At the first Memorial Day event, Monday, May 25, 2015, a speech was given by Pastor David Rogers, First Baptist Church, Vernon, Illinois at the re-dedication and the 100th anniversary of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War statute at the entrance of the Civil War cemetery in Vernon, Illinois. This is not an exact duplication of the speech as this was written after the fact and from his notes:

I come to you today to try and give a perspective from the Bible, why memorials are important according to God’s Word. There are many memorials mentioned in scripture.

In the ark of the covenant were to be kept a sample of manna; Aaron’s rod that budded; and, a stone copy of the 10 commandments.

These three things were important because they represented something the Israelites wanted their children to know, something from each of these important events. So the upcoming generations to come would see:

1) The bread God gave Israel to eat in the desert when they were brought out of Egypt: they wanted to have something in there to remind them about God’s wondrous care for them;

2) God told Moses to get a rod from each of the 12 tribes, to write each leader’s name on them – and Aaron’s name to be written for the tribe of Levi. And God miraculously made one of those rods bud, it produced almonds. That was Aaron’s rod. It was to tell the people God was in charge, that He was going to pick the leaders, they were not to pick them. The story continues in Numbers 17:8-10 – the next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, not only sprouted, but it had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff. The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony to be kept as a sign of the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so they will not die.”

3) And finally, the third item kept in the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of the 10 commandments written by the hand of God, a memorial to God’s concern for our need of laws right and wrong, civility, and morality. I’m wondering how many remember this is where we find the morality that God has designed for mankind.

Why was the container of manna placed in the most Holy Ark of the covenant? As a memorial to God’s care for His people’s physical well-being.

Why was Aaron’s rod that produced almonds placed in the most Holy Ark of the Covenant? As a reminder of God’s judgment upon the rebellious.

And why were the 10 commandments placed in the most Holy Ark of the Covenant? As a reminder of God’s laws.

All three were placed there for future generations to see, to not repeat similar rebellions, and to respect God’s power and resolve.

But there were other memorials in Scripture:

In Joshua 4, we see what happened after the whole nation had finished the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Twelve men were chosen from among the people, one from each tribe, to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan from where the priests stood and they carried them over to the place where they stayed that next night.

This was to serve as a sign, a memorial. In the future, when your children ask you what do the stones mean? From Joshua 4:7, “tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel for ever.”

Two more biblical memorials as we prepare to close: First, the cross. The tree upon which Jesus died, it hangs around necks, it dangles from ear lobes, on necklaces, and bracelets. It can be seen as far away in Effingham, Illinois or high on the Hill in Bald-Knob, Missouri.

When you look at the cross, do you see the absence of the Savior, risen, alive, sitting at the right-hand of the throne of God? Or are you reminded of Him nailed there, bleeding, suffering, dying for you?

George Bernard wrote a hymn in 1913 and published it in 1915, the same year the GAR memorial was erected (the “memorial” we were re-dedicating on this date) – and some other songs that were more popular that year:

“A little bit of heaven (Sure they call it Ireland)”
“Carry me back to old Virginny”
“It’s a long way to Tipperary”

The hymn George Bernard published in 1915 has stood the test of time,The Old Rugged Cross.

And the last biblical memorial I will mention today is the communion table in most churches. Do you remember what it says? “This do in remembrance of me.” Jesus’ words to his disciples, admonishing them to take part in the communion, the Lord’s supper Service regularly until He returns.

We have many memorials in life: monuments, historical markers, and even wedding rings.

By far and away the most important memorial we have is the cross of Jesus Christ. On this memorial day I urge you to remember these three memorials in the Ark of the covenant:

The Jar of Manna: God’s care for you physically.
Aaron’s rod that budded: God’s care for you mentally.
The 10 commandments: God’s care for you socially.

Today, remember especially the cross: God’s care for you spiritually–eternally. You will die one day and there will be a memorial stone placed where your body lies.

But what you do today with the cross will determine where your spirit resides.

To safely shoot these pieces of artillery, it takes six men to safely fire: the powder monkey, who is in charge of carrying the gun powder and ammunition to the cannon; a gunner who aims the cannon; load crewmen, who packs the ammo and the powder into the barrel; and a man of higher rank who instructs these artillery personnel when and where to shoot the gun.

The day was absolutely wonderful and as we said then and will continue to say, it was the best Memorial Day we’ve ever attended as honor was truly paid to those who gave their lives for the freedom of this country. Let that soak in a bit….

Here is a link to all the pictures from this event. Next write up will be from this year, 2017’s event. It was just as amazing and honoring to our fallen warriors from WWII….

Silent Night Holy Night!

Merry Christmas!

We’re listening to Christmas music as we prepare for our Christmas Eve tradition, attending a candlelight service at our church. Which led to us talking about our favorite Christmas songs, and then our favorite Christmas memories.  What are your favorite Christmas songs? Favorite Christmas memories?

We have enjoyed (as a compromise since our taste in music is different) listening to Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas music. Bill commented today, the only problem with just instrumental music, the younger generations won’t learn the words, which have GREAT meaning behind them.

Bill’s favorite childhood memory of Christmas time was going ice skating. We moved a lot, so we didn’t have set traditions. I honestly can’t think of a favorite memory as a child. But a tradition we started with our daughter was going out one night before Christmas to look at all the lights. And since he doesn’t like hot drinks, we stopped for ice cream (yes, while we lived up north) to have a fun snack. It was fun passing it one to her husband. I’ll never forget us going into the ice cream store and it was very cold out. We thought everyone must think we were nuts (and we were surprised it was open), but who did we run into? Our pastor! He’s a bit nutty, too!

Sadly, this year, we haven’t been able to fit this tradition in…but we are all going to attend our Christmas Eve Candlelight service! Now that’s a time honoring tradition!

So for my favorite hymns: O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Come Let Us Adore Him); Silent Night, Oh Holy Night; and, Little Drummer Boy (from my childhood).  Bill had too many to list, but he agrees with my first two!

I looked at the lyrics of various favorite hymns and decided I prefer the words to Silent Night, Oh Holy night.  Enjoy:

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine
Ooh yes it was
Ooh it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah
It was a holy holy holy, oh oh oh


Gaylord Palms ICE 2015 Manger scene with our precious two-year-old grandson.

May you enjoy the holy-ness of this special holiday!

May God Bless!

Bill and Debbie



Treasures from the Past

Treasures from the Past

We found another treasure while emptying out our storage locker (from when we sold our home and attempted to get rid of everything), My mom knew I had what she thought was my grandma’s Bible, but it was actually my great grandma’s! Mom said she remembers seeing her mom sit for hours, reading her Bible. What a great legacy!

To open it and see this was such a joy and I know this is a treasure:


And even better, to find a handwritten note by my grandma. She hand wrote her mom’s obituary, my great-grandma:

Mrs. Sarah Cochran was born July 6, 1846, in Casey County, Kentucky, and died February 5, 1921, being 74 years, 6 months, and 24 days.

May 5, 1864, she was married to John Cochran, and to this union, 10 children were born. Those living are Mrs. Nannie Young, Moorshouse, Mo (sic); Mrs. Georgia Litty, Fordland Mo; James W., Malden, Mo; Thomas, Lawrence and Mrs. Amanda Tuell of this place (Brownstown, Indiana).

She came to Indiana with her husband in 1884 and has spent the remainder of her life in Jackson Co., sharing with him the joys and sorrows of their family until (sic) February 23, 1892, when he departed this life leaving her to fight the battles of life alone.

Aside from rearing her own family, she had time to be the neighbor in need, often acting as physician, nurse, counselor, and comforter.

Early in life, she united with the Christian Church, and her “Delight was in the Law of the Lord.” The Bible was her daily companion and in her last years, when her sight was dim, it was her great pleasure to have it read to her, especially, the New Testament and the passages referring to eternal life. One of her favorite was, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

So after a long life of service, we will say with Solomon, “Let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Verses she quoted are as follows from King James Version:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:31

GreatGrand Mr. & Mrs. John Cochran May 5, 1864
War Letters

War Letters

IMG_8363Inspired by my “Love Letters” post, I decided to write briefly about the letters written during WWII from my mother-in-law, Army 1st Lt. Ruth Brunner, to her surrogate mother, Aunt Rosella.  And today, further inspired by my blogosphere friend, Dr. Meg Sorick, whose written “Here Lies a Soldier.” I read the first three short chapters and I’m hooked. (I really appreciate history, England, Philadelphia, and long-lost family connections. You’ll find this in her story.)

Amongst other treasures as we continue to clean out the remnants of our 40+ marriage, we found this box of letters! We stored them after we helped clean out Ruth’s home when she relocated from Florida. She is still alive and well at a sharp 94 years young. We are about to ship these letters to her other son, my husband’s brother. He is going to become the caretaker of these letters. It’s really hard to part with them. But we know it’s the right thing to do. I had intended to go through them, scan them, and make a historical accounting of them. But alas, they found their way into the bottom of a closet and into our storage locker. These are priceless and thank the good Lord, they were preserved. No small miracle.

I’d like to share a brief history of Ruth. She was more or less orphaned at a young age with her brother and sister. Her parents had a farm, but tragedy struck and the three children we moved into another family house. Their Aunt Rosella, unmarried, became their surrogate mother and father. The three children raised themselves as she had a job and her own home, so she just checked on them weekly and brought necessary provisions.

The first to graduate, their older brother, Warren, worked in heavy equipment until he was in his 80s. He’s still alive at age 96! Ruth was the middle child. She and her little sister, namesake of Rosella but called Posey, were like twins, just a year or so apart in age. Ruth was the mother figure and Posey was the fancy-free youngest child. Ruth graduated from high school, and since they both wanted to become nurses, Ruth waited for her to graduate. Aunt Rosella helped fund their education. Then they went to nursing school together. And then the war broke out.

These two sisters were real dynamos! And highly sought after. As patriots, they left good jobs to help with the war effort. And the doctors all said their jobs would be waiting for their return.  When they enlisted, they insisted on serving together. This was not an easy request, but these dynamos got their way and off they went. I’ve memorialized some of their history in a picture album, but must get permission to write more. I’m taking a liberty now to brag about my wonderful mother-in-law and her legacy. My husband and I are so blessed we have wonderful moms and good relationships with each today.

So I read a few letters and gleaned a few things. It was hard to write during war-time. She looked for positive things to report. They did have some free time, so she said they did go and find some fun! Might as well enjoy themselves, she said! And then she said they attend church every Sunday, having only missed one Sunday since writing.

This story has a happy ending! Both sisters came home safely and met their prospective husbands, married and lived long happy lives!




Second Birthday

He’s so sweet. How bad is it for him to say, “This is MINE!” And that’s the whole cake!

I picked my two-year-old grandson up from daycare right before his second birthday. I learned his new favorite word is “MINE!” And that is with emphasis! At first, everything he touches is MINE! His parents and grandparents (including me) are trying to figure out how to help him understand….

So when his paternal grandma and her fiance came to see him, he began with MINE. So I mentioned that is his new favorite word. Fiance quipped back, “It’s my favorite word, too!”

I do like my grandson’s daycare. They really are experts in handling behavior issues. So I asked about this possessiveness. My husband and I don’t remember this stage with our daughter. Maybe it’s a boy thing? I was told it is a normal stage children go through. “He’ll grow out of it” I was assured.

Second BD cake

And then he dove into the cake! Yikes, he wasn’t very happy when we had to remove it from the table….

It's his and he gets to eat it, too!

Until, we set this before him. It’s his and he gets to eat it, too!

Around this same time, I read this blog about an adult claiming MINE, over a red car.  An excerpt:

How many things that are not ours do we regard as ours?

I talk about “my life.” It is not really mine. I did not make it, buy it or earn it although it may be registered in my name. It is a gift of God. My husband and my children are also gifts. So are all my talents and accomplishments. My blog and my books only exist because God has gifted me with certain talents and opportunities.   God can take them back at any time and no doubt I will then also accuse Him of being mean.

No, I don’t think we grow out of it. But what my faith teaches me is to allow the Lord to take selfish traits from me. So as I spend lots of time with my grandson and hear how many times he says, MINE, I examine myself and ask the Lord, “am I still clinging onto things that are really yours?”

Then today, a friend posted this on FaceBook:

When everything seems to be falling apart and you don’t think you can bear it- when you want so badly to grab control- to grasp at straws- remember that nothing comes to us without His permission and His will- His justice- His goodness will be restored in His time. When your power is diminished it’s because His power is the only true power – the only true way to find peace in trial and joy that doesn’t quiver is to surrender to His path. It’s hard to not become weak or to trust Him with it all- but only then can you truly put on the Robes of His blessings.

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
Matthew 5:3-8 MSG

and I have to ask, “OK, Lord, you’re serious about my behavior.”

To what am I clinging? I’m a minimalist, so it’s not material things. I’ve dedicated my finances to the Lord (a long time ago and blogged about it here), so it’s not money. My daughter and I cut our cord long ago, although we are very close. It can’t be my time because every day, I ask the Lord, “Where would You have me go today?” AND “What is my assignment for today?” My time isn’t mine as I never seem to do things “just for Debbie.” Although I’ll admit, I’d like to – but really what would I do different each day?

Is there something that makes me feel I am at the end of my rope? What am I struggling with?

Let me look at my posts and see if I see if there is anything else. It can’t be my grandson, could it? Could I be clinging to him too tight? Do I realize he really isn’t mine? Now that we have a second one, surely, I’ll begin to love and cherish him as much! “Won’t I, Lord?”

What do you think? Can we love our children and grandchildren too much? I know too many parents who have buried a child. My heart aches so much for them. But I remember how my own dad told me he KNEW I was on loan to him from God.


We want him to say, MINE, about his baby brother!

Emotional Day

When I woke up this morning, Philippians 4:8 was on my mind. I just felt I had to speak it, pray over it, and announced to the world that this is my new goal in life. I think most people would say that I am a pretty optimistic type person and am known to be an encourager. But like everyone, I have moments of despair, depressing thoughts, and even anger. But I am going to conquer them with Philippians 4:8.
So today culminated in the final move of my mother-in-law to Illinois. She moved here to Florida in 1996, after the death of my most amazing father-in-law. My sister in law and I both agree that if there was an example of how Jesus would want us to walk on this earth, he was the one who portrayed that for us. I recently found his eulogy, and it extolled Philippians 4:8 in his life. May be that’s why it was on my mind!
We have so many wonderful memories traveling here starting in 1996 until we finally moved here in 2004. Today, that chapter closed in our lives.
Today was a very bittersweet day for me. I’m so glad I kept reminding myself to think about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things!”
It helped me get through the day!

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (My dad)

UnbrokenI just finished this book (in July 2013). I can only give it the highest praise as it has answered a lot of questions as to why I didn’t understand my dad…a decorated WWII veteran!

My sister recommended this book but had been hesitant to lend it to me (we live states apart) as she has wanted her sons to read it. They were very close to our dad, who was a bombardier in World War II. This book is a story about another bombardier who flew in the same type of plane our dad did. Dad never really talked much about his experiences in the war until he and his fellow squadron reunited in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. I need to find the rest of his documents that tell me more!

I’ve started this blog to help me sort through what I have learned about my dad and subsequently, me.  So I want to dedicate this to my dad!  I was once “daddy’s little girl” then went through the rebellious teen years when I didn’t really understand him or where he was coming from, only to see our relationship redeemed after I entered my chosen profession, serving our country in law enforcement.

In the meantime, here is a clipping of one article I found about my dad.  This book now makes his feat miraculous!   Dad did say he knew the Lord saved his life on more than one occasion….and now this book helps me fully see and understand how miraculous his service to our country was and all the rest of our servicemen!

13th Mission