Before I get started, I want to introduce you to a man named Herman Edwards. He played and coached in the NFL for many years. He's now a sports analyst and motivational speaker. He was once speaking to a group of NFL rookies about social media and he said a button should be added to phones that says "don't press send". It was his advice to those rookies before they posted something on social media. I'd like to add one more thing to his advice and that's this, "THINK" before you post. My daughter Alyssa brought this up one week in our Sunday morning Cornerstone group when we were discussing what comes out of our mouths and how hurtful words can be. And not just our mouths, but what we put out there on social media. There are many pieces of scripture about the tongue, which can also be related to social media posts. Look them up, you'll be amazed and boy will they make you "THINK". This is probably my favorite. I suggest you stop reading now or after finishing this, go read James 3:5-12. That will make you "THINK" before speaking. Any way, before you post just "THINK".
T-is it True.
H-is it Helpful.
I-is it Inspiring
N-is it Necessary
K-is it Kind.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with John 3:16. You sometimes see it on a big poster behind field goal posts at NFL or college games, or some guy with a multi-colored curly wig is holding up a sign with it on TV. It's possibly the most quoted piece of scripture. However, how many are familiar with John 3:17? "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." Here's one more to look at, the first half of Matthew 20:28, "just as the son of man came not be to served, but to serve." Now what if we handled our social media life and postings like we are supposed to handle our life of faith and in Christ, putting others first, thinking about others first? It's definitely something, I believe, worth looking into.
So is our time spent with social media really social "ME"dia? Is it all about ourselves? How many likes or hits we can get. How many comments we'll get, how many retweets and better yet, maybe it will go "viral". So here's my suggestion, let's start making social MEdia less about ourselves and more about others. Let's call it social WEdia and implement THINK before we post or hit send. And let's not care about the self gratification we'll get, but be more concerned about our life on social media helping others, benefiting others and building others up! Let's make our social media world a beacon of light for others to see. A light so bright that it can't be ignored. I'm not saying we still can't have fun on social media and post goofy stuff, etc., but don't forget to also post the stuff that is helpful to others. The stuff that's not beneficial by worldly standards or by instant gratification, but instead, the stuff that's eternally beneficial, both for others and for ourselves.
So the next time you're ready to post, or hit send, or put something out there for all to see in a fit of anger or to be hurtful or judgmental, first THINK. Then next, remember Jesus' life on this earth and why he came. Is what your about to post serving others, helping others, or is it self serving? I believe if we can be more focused on the needs of others and concern for everyone, as we post on our various social media outlets, we can not only change our own little corner of the world, but maybe, just maybe, do even more than that.
We left our church family in the month of May, 1943, heartened by better news from the war front, and a portrait of “Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell gracing the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, one of the very popular magazines of the day. The City held its Memorial Day Parade on Sunday, May 30th, beginning at 11 AM on the Girard-McDonald Viaduct where Sailors who had died in our Country’s service were honored. The Parade then proceeded to Liberty Union Cemetery where all other branches of the services were honored and Congressman Michael Kirwan was the speaker. (As a former Girl Scout leader, and Band parent, I remember vividly those Memorial Day marches. First we would gather at the War Memorial in front of City Hall where the flag, in a solemn ceremony, would be hoisted to the top of the pole, then lowered to half-staff, the playing of taps, the 21 gun salute, the march to the viaduct and up to the west to the place over the center of the Mahoning River where the wreath would be tossed down to the water, which would eventually flow down to the Ohio River, then down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico where it would become part of the sea. Then would follow the long march back down the viaduct to State Street and then north out of town to the cemetery, where the flag ceremony would again be repeated along with the playing of taps and the gun salute, and a speech by an invited local dignitary. To me, and my children, these Memorial Day services marked the beginning of summer. But in 1943, with many Girard families whose sons, or husbands, or fathers were away at war, and some Girard men already killed in that war, Memorial Day observances were much more personal.)
With the arrival of the month of June, our church family from 75 years ago, was also thinking about the beginning of summer. On Wednesday evening, June 2nd, the Official Board met at the church. They were making plans for the upcoming Quarterly Conference on June 16th, at 6:30 PM. Mrs. Swegan moved that the Friendly Class be in charge of the covered dish dinner for the evening. Motion carried. The Pastor Parish Relations committee recommended to the Official Board that Rev. Maly be returned to Girard for the coming year. Brother Howells moved that the recommendation by the PPR Committee be accepted. This also carried. The PPR Committee also recommended that Dist. Superintendent Dr. Secrist be returned to his position. This, too, carried.
The following Wednesday, June 9th, the Friendly Class held its monthly dinner meeting at the church. Mr and Mrs Thomas Weaver were chairmen for the dinner. The program, under the direction of Mrs. Wendell Thomas, consisted of piano selections by Phyllis Gosnell, songs by Tammy McLain and Charles Gilchrist, a reading by Barbara Parris, and a Women’s Quartet consisting of Mrs Rose Williams, Mrs Edward Clark, Miss Blodwyn Evans and Mrs. Stark.
As I had noted in earlier monthly reports on the past, life on the home front during WWII was constantly affected by blackouts and rationing. Coupons were distributed for most of life’s necessities such as coffee, sugar, meat, butter, gasoline, tires, shoes, etc. No cars or trucks were manufactured for civilians. Our family had a ‘29 Nash which my Dad drove to work and back home all through the war. That was about all the driving he could do with his gasoline allocation. We could occasionally go to a grocery store down on Mahoning Avenue. When he had enough gasoline saved up, we could visit his mom and dad out of town on Tippecanoe Rd. That was it. After the war, when new cars became available, and gasoline plentiful, my dad, like many American men. felt a pent-up need to drive . . . somewhere . . . anywhere! In the late 40’s and early 50’s, we kids were packed into the back seats and taken for long drives through the countryside, usually while listening to Jack Graney delivering the Indian’s game on the car radio. But those days would come about four or five years later. In June of 1943, President Roosevelt, our country’s great encourager, announced that he favored people having enough coupons for ammunition so that they could hunt in hunting season. My Dad liked to hunt so he would have been happy with that announcement. I don’t remember much about it. I was only five in 1943 and getting to know my new baby brother, John, born in February of 1943.
War news from June of 1943 continued to reflect the positive turn of the war from Africa where the allies had prevailed, to plans for the invasion of Europe. Winston Churchill had insisted that they must attack the “soft underbelly” of Europe through Italy. So GI’s in Africa were now preparing to cross the Mediterranean and head north through supposedly soft Italy. The Atlantic convoys to Europe were now successfully completing their crossings, with the U-boats greatly diminished. On a more somber note, a British passenger plane on a routine flight over the Bay of Biscay was attacked and shot down by 8 German planes, killing all aboard. One of the passengers was Leslie Howard, the actor who had played Scarlet’s forbidden love, Ashley Wilkes, in the very popular movie “Gone With The Wind”.
That concludes our Glance back at our church family in June of 1943, seventy-five years ago.
We left our church family in April of 1943 celebrating a very late Easter Service on April 25th, the latest possible date on which it could occur. The following Friday, the April 30th edition of the Girard News, in the “Church Notes” section of the paper, Rev. Maly offered a thank you for the excellent church attendance and a challenge: “We had an excellent attendance last Sunday. Try to keep up the good work. Now that we are started, let us have a fine turnout for the services this Sunday.” As I closed last month’s report on our church family 75 years ago, I observed that to ask for Easter attendance on every Sunday was a bit much. At the time I was writing that, I did not know what the attendance was, because we simply do not have that information in our Archives. However, in preparing for this month’s Glance, I found the actual attendance number in the notes for the Official Board for May 6th meeting at the Church. In his report to the Board, Rev. Maly noted that the Easter attendance had been 505 people! That is a large turnout indeed. I then decided to check the Sunday School attendance for Easter, as we have Sunday School numbers for quite a few years, recorded in brown bound volumes called “The Hammond Record Book”. There were four Sundays in April of 1943. Easter, falling at the absolute latest date of April 25th, was the fourth Sunday of the month. Here are the attendance numbers for the Sundays: 327, 325, 335, and 382. Easter’s attendance at the Sunday School level was up by more than 50 pupils.
As a little side note about life of our church family seventy-five years ago in 1943 - our church had no church secretary. Thus, most of our church records from that time are hand-written, usually in pencil. It was the Pastor’s responsibility to send out any information which would be published in the Girard News “Church Notes”. Thus, the thank you and challenge Rev. Maly issued was personally written and sent in by him. In that Friday, April 30th issue, Rev. Maly also noted that “Dr. Wolff from the Berea Children’s Home will be the Preacher of the morning.” As I prepared for this May history, I checked the “Church Notes” from the entire month of May and also of June. That same message appeared for our church in the weekly newspaper. For two solid months people consulting the paper would assume that Dr. Wolff would be preaching at the morning service! Apparently this part of the News was not consulted frequently by Rev. Maly. He probably just forgot about changing it. He really could have used the services of Ethel Weaver who would become our first Secretary sometime later in our church history. It is hard to believe that we did without a Secretary for so long! Apparently we did without a telephone, too. In the entire list of expenditures for the month of May, 1943, there is electric - $10.74, gas - $6.51, and coal - $79.41, but none for a telephone!
During the War years, the Girard News was printing a lot of information about Girard young men in various branches of the Services. For example, in the May 7th issue, the News reported that “Three Demas Brothers Serving in US Forces: Jimmie Demas S-2C in the Navy, joined in September of 1942, Pfc. Becky Demas joined the Army in December, 1942, and Carl Demas, S-2C joined the Navy in December 1942.”
The war news that our church family was hearing on their radios and watching at the movie newsreels was beginning to get better. In North Africa our troops, along with our Allies, had recorded some significant victories against the Germans and the Italians. On May 13 the German and Italian troops surrendered to the Allied forces. The news would start shifting to the European theatre. On May 16 and 17, the RAF used “bouncing bombs” to breach dams in Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. And, on May 29th, those members of our church family who subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post would be greeted by a Norman Rockwell cover portrait of “Rosie the Riveter”.
On this happier war note, we will leave our church family, our town and our country, seventy-five years ago in the middle of World War II, the month of May 1943.
We left our church family in March of 1943, living with war rationing, and watching newsreels of some of the good news from the front, and knowing that there was also bad news that was not being publicized. In the meantime, all Girard citizens were doing what they could to help the war effort. One way was to purchase war bonds, thus lending money to our government to finance the war effort. In mid-April the Girard News announced that a $400,000 quota had been set for War Loan purchase during the month of April. As the News noted, “Every Girard citizen will be expected to buy War Bonds to the full extent of their ability. . . . Our boys in the armed services are giving their lives and you are expected to lend your money.”
Meanwhile, our church family was preparing for Easter. Easter Sunday in 1943 occurred on April 25th, the latest possible date on which it could occur. The last time this had happened was in 1886. The next time would not be until 2038. I am sure that our church members remarked on the lateness of the event just as we all did back in 2008 when Easter occurred on March 23rd, almost the earliest possible date. It had not been that early since 1918, and would not come that early again until 2160. It is also possible for Easter to fall as early as March 22nd. However, that has not happened since 1818 and won’t happen again until 2285.
Anyhow, early or late, our church celebrated Easter with a lot of music and much planning and preparation, just as in this year when it falls on April 1. The Prelude in 1943 was “Easter Morning on Mount Rubidoux” composed by Harvey Gaul. This was followed by the Processional Hymn, Invocation, Scripture reading, and Prayer. The Offeratory Anthem was “My Redeemer and My Lord” by Dudley Buck. The Easter Meditation was given by Rav. Maly which was followed by 2 hymns: “Sing With All the Sons of Glory” and “Now is Christ Risen From the Dead”. After that Mrs. Maly and Miss Blodwyn Evans sang a duet – “Spring Bursts Today”. Then the Choir had two Anthems: “Christ is Risen” by Moulder, and “Jerusalem” from Gallia by Gounnod. Then followed an organ solo : “The Bells of St Anne de Beaupre” by Alexander Russell. This selection was played annually in memory of Mrs. P J King, the donor of our organ. At last came the Benediction, followed by the choir’s “Sevenfold Amen” by Steiner. With all that rousing music still ringing in their heads, our church family went home to Easter dinner.
On April 23, the Friday before Easter Sunday, the Girard News announced that the War Bond Drive sales had gone over the $285,000 mark toward the $400,000 goal. “Now,” said the Editor, “The toughest part of the drive is ahead.” Then in the April 30th Edition, the Headline: “Girard Goes Over the Top In Second War Bond Drive – Raised $445,707.”
Also in the April 30th edition of the News, under “Church Notes” was a thank you and a plea from Rev, Maly: “We had an excellent attendance last Sunday. Try to keep up the good work. Now that we are started, let us have a fine turnout for the services this Sunday.” From 75 years in the future, I have to admire his enthusiasm. However to expect to replicate Easter and Christmas attendance figures on every Sunday is just not realistic today and probably wasn’t then.
So, on that note of 2018 cynicism, we will leave our church family and our town of Girard – 75 years ago – April of 1943.
We left our church family in February, 1943, living with war news every day, watching their young men going off to serve, listening intently to the evening news on the radio or in the newsreels between the movies in the local theaters, while still going about their usual daily activities.
A large 32 county blackout was held on the evening of March 4th, a Thursday. This would have been more serious than the previous dimouts. Street lights would be off, traffic would be limited to essential only, whatever that was determined to be. No lights were permitted to be on in houses or offices, unless the windows were completely covered by heavy, black, light-blocking curtains. People were to remain in their homes for the duration of the blackout. Of course, anyone working in a factory producing something essential for defense could not stop for a practice blackout. Thus, all the steel mills along the Mahoning River were busily working 24 hours a day, with the glow of the molten steel and the lights of the mills the only light visible in the entire Mahoning Valley. Looking back, it seems silly to black out all the homes, etc. while leaving the very necessary mills producing steel fully exposed. However, people wanted to know what they should do if we were attacked, and these practices helped to put in place plans for dealing with that possibility. Stopping the production of steel was out of the question.
That same evening, apparently earlier, our Official Board held their regular monthly meeting. This must have been one of the shortest in our church history. Two items were considered. #1 – the Minister was given permission to purchase colored bulletins for Easter and, #2 – All bills due should be paid. And then they turned out the lights, and went home to prepare for and participate in the blackout.
On Friday, March 5th, Women’s Society of Christion Service Groups #1 and #5 met respectively at the homes of Mrs. Mildred Patterson, 49 Howard St., and Mrs. Reese Evans of Morris Lane.
On Sunday, March 7th, we have from our archives the report of the Sunday School. Attendance was 270. The collection from these scholars was $13.81. The weather was noted as “cold” and under Remarks, “Paul S. home on leave”. Next Sunday, the 14th, the weather was noted as “fair and warmer”, and the attendance was up, too, at 317. March 21st was also “fair and warmer” with attendance at 316. Under Remarks, “Alberta and Oscar have the measles.” The last Sunday in March was the 28th. The attendance was 332 with a collection of $20.66. The weather was reported as “Bright sun but cold. Spring is here!” Remarks – “Marjorie’s got the measles.”
On March 4th, the 15th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles. Of course there was no TV then, but it was probably broadcast on the radio. Mrs. Miniver won the Best Picture Award. Girard had two movie theaters, the Wellman and the New Mock. Both were well attended. Movies were much cheaper then and probably attended by a higher percentage of the population than today because there was no competing way to experience movies at that time. You generally watched a double feature with a newsreel and a cartoon in between. What would have been in the newsreel during March of 1932? Probably footage from the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, which had occurred on March 2nd and had a lot of both movie and still footage. In this battle of the South Pacific, both US and Australian forces sank numerous Japanese convoy ships. It was good news and it probably helped to keep up the morale of our families at home worrying about our boys at war. Unfortunately, also in March occurred two very bad convoy attacks in the North Atlantic of our ships by German U-boats. The early one on March 9th and 10th sank 7 of our ships. Later, on March 16th through the 19th, 22 US ships were lost in the largest North Atlantic “wolfpack” attack of the war. Bad news like that was often held back from public knowledge. These attacks most likely would not have been shown in the newsreel between movies at the Wellman or the New Mock.
On a happy note, and probably completely unnoticed by anyone in Girard, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma opened on Broadway in New York City on March 31, 1943, beginning a run of 2,212 performances which would not end until May 29th in 1948, a record-setter at that time.
So, with that small ray of sunshine, we will end our Glance back at the month of March, 1943 – our church family, our town, and our country 75 years ago.
We left our church family at the end of January, 1943, practicing the City of Girard’s first blackout or dimout as it was called, because street lights and signal lights at intersections were left on, and essential driving was permitted. Houses, however, had to be dark. The first issue of The Girard News in February – Friday, the 5th – pronounced the first dimout to be a success, along with a second one held Tuesday evening, February 2nd. A real blackout would be scheduled later. The News also reported that the first Tin Can collection would be held February 8th. I remember tin can collections vividly. They, along with regular other scrap metal collections, would become a routine part of our lives right through the end of the war. Most of us at the time had small hand-held can openers. You pressed down on the top of the can hard with the pointy part of the cutting edge so that it cut through the metal. Then, using the top edge of the can as a fulcrum, you worked the opener up and down like a lever, gradually cutting and working your way around the top until you reached your original opening, freeing the lid. After pouring the contents of the can into your pan or whatever, you had to rinse out the can, and then turn it upside down, to repeat the process on the other end. After both ends were removed, the can was flattened by standing on it, and the ends were carefully slipped in between the flattened sides. The cans were put out once a week or so in a box or some kind of container for pickup. One reason I remember can collections in particular, is because of what happened to me because of a can collection. It was a warm, late spring Saturday afternoon, with dandelions blooming profusely in all the front yards. I was visiting my new friend, Mary Johnson. She lived on Lakewood Avenue, several blocks from my home, but not involving crossing a major street. It was probably the spring of 1945, when I had just turned 7. I wouldn’t have been allowed to travel that far from home if I had been younger. We were playing out in the sidewalk, with boxes of flattened tin cans by the curb in front of every home. Suddenly we noticed that one of the box’s cans had smooth lids that kept falling out of the flattened sides. We had never seen a can opener make as smooth lid like that. Neither had her older brother. Richard. He told his sister to pick a dandelion and hold it our wither one hand, without moving it, and he would bring the edge of the lid down upon the stem and see if it would cut it off. It did! She held out another one. It cut that one off smoothly, too. I held out one. Swoosh! Richard was a dkind, sweet boy, just a couple years older than us. He had stated that he wanted to be a priest when he grew up He patiently cut off every dandelion we brought to him. It was great fun. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh! And then, somehow, he misjudged, or maybe I moved, and suddenly the can cut right into my left thumb, missing the dandelion clenched in my fist. I felt it, looked at the blood pouring out and started bawling and running home, with Richard called after me, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you.” When I go home, my mom bandaged the wound and it healed pretty quickly. But it left a smooth little scar, just at the base of my left thumbnail, to remind me in coming years, how I had learned about modern can openers. Later the Johnson’s would move from Lakewood Avenue, and out of my life I never did find out if Richard became a priest.
Back to February of 1943: On February 4th our Official Board held their regular monthly meeting a the church. It was pretty uneventful. Rev. Maly requested that the Secretary of the Board write a letter of thanks to Mr. Martin for his work in painting the Pastor’s office. After hearing and passing acceptance of routine reports, they adjourned. However, on February 18th they called a special meeting to take care of important business. You may remember that Mr. Blossom had replaced Mr. Crum as Janitor, beginning January 1st. Now, at this special meeting, the Janitor’s Committee was recommending that Mr. Crum be rehired beginning March 1st, and that Mr. Blossom only continue work through the month of February. And we have no idea what caused this change. Did Mr. Blossom want to leave the job? Was he drafted and had to leave? Probably no one among us knows the answer. The Official Board passed the Janitor Committee’s resolution and the meeting was adjourned.
On a much happier note, Pearl Marie Sayers and Pvt. Lynn Miller were married at the Methodist Parsonage on Monday, February 8th by Rev. Maly.
On Wednesday evening, the 17th, the Friendly Class held their 8th Anniversary Party dinner at the church – 82 members and guests. One of the special guests was Rev. Charles Stoneburner of Cleveland. Rev. Stoneburner had been Pastor at our church when the Friendly Class was organized. And on a Friday evening, the 26th of February, the Wesleyan Class met at the home of Mrs. E.O. Hood of E. Prospect St. with Mrs. I. R. Howells as co-hostess. The Girard News issue of the last Friday of February, 1943, announced that the big 32 County wide Blackout was set for Thursday, March 4th.
And with that, we will leave our church family, our little town, and our country – living day to day with war news still mostly bad, watching young men going away to serve, many of them, like Lynn Miller and his new wife Pearl, trusting in God and their love for each other, making lifetime commitments before they parted.
The month of February, 1943 – 75 years ago in the history of our church family.
We left our church family last month, celebrating Christmas of 1942, 75 years ago. I have noted in previous months that some of the material presented here is found in our church Archives. I also check out the Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper from that time frame, available on microfilm at Girard Free Library.
The previous month of December had marked the first full year of our country being in World War II, which had begun for us on December 7, 1941 with the surprise attack on our Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, described as a “date that will live in infamy” by our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Now we were entering the second year of wartime. Many Girard boys were in battle zones, including some from our church family. Wartime rationing included sugar, meat, gasoline (four gallons per week) and, beginning January 1st, shoes.
Still, church life went on as usual. On Wednesday January 6th, the Women’s Society of Christian Service met at the Church in the evening. The Devotionals were conducted by Miss Mary Frack and Miss Ella Geiss conducted the study in “Training For Christian Leadership”.
The next evening, the 7th, the Official Board met in the Church at 7:30 pm. Rev. Maly opened the meeting by leading all in the Lord’s Prayer. The minutes of the last meeting and the Financial Report were read and approved.
Mrs. Powers reported for the Membership Committee, that 20 callers were making calls on the membership and that 12 of the 20 had met with each person on their list and turned in the results. The remaining 8 would be finished shortly. The Janitor Committee reported that beginning January 1st, the new Janitor is Mr. Blossom who replaced Mr. Crum, the previous janitor. Mr. Teeter reported for the Sunday School. He stated that attendance was about the same as the previous year and that the Sunday School had donated $400 to the Church Building Fund. Mrs. Burtsfield reported on WSCS activities and Rev. Maly reported on his pastoral activities. Mr. Crider asked Rev. Maly to look into purchasing Church Letterhead paper and report back to the Board. (You may remember in December “Glance” I reported that Rev. Maly had to ask the Board’s permission to order special bulletins for the Christmas Eve service because printing was a significant expense at the time.) The Board then adjourned.
On the following Wednesday evening, the 13th, the Friendly Class met at the church for their monthly dinner meeting. A group of High School studendts provided entertainment after the meal. The next day, the 14th, Groups 1, 4 and 5 of WSCS met at member’s homes-group #1 at Mrs. Kendall’s home on Ward Ave, group #4 at the home of Mrs. Russell Swegan on Trumbull Ave., and Group #5 at the home of Mrs. John Buckley of W. Liberty St. Also on the 14th, the Alethia Class met a the home of Miss Joesephine Didier on E. Wilson Ave. Miss Mary Franck spoke on “Methodists in Africa”.
Then on Sunday morning, after the conclusion of services, at 11:40 am, the official board held a special meeting. Rev. Maly asked permission of the Board to attend the Ohio Pastors’ Convention from Feb. 1st to Feb. 4th. Permission was given. Although the price was not mentioned in the minutes, Rev. Maly was also given permission to order 1000 Church Letterhead Stationery and 1000 envelopes.
Meanwhile, there was a war on.
Remember the saying "keep on truckin"? Though it appears to have originated in a 1930's song, it became popular to me in the 1970's. It was another way of saying keep on trying, don't give up and hang in there. Any way, as I was reading 2 Timothy one morning, which by the way I've read numerous times, I came to chapter 2 verse 12 and I never got any further. The first part of that passage goes like this, "if we endure, we will also reign with him".
Over the years, my home bible has become full of underlined passages, circled paragraphs and lots of things I've written wherever I can find space on a particular page. However, there was absolutely nothing next to this verse, or even this chapter, that is until that early December morning. Those 8 words stopped me in my tracks and over the next hour or so, I wrote down many thoughts, saved the verse in my phone and even texted it to a few people, as it really inspired me. I also came to realize how unimportant all the stuff in my life is and I don't just mean possessions, I mean all the "stuff" banging around in my head as well. I'm sure many of you have heard the saying "you can't take it with you". Well that never rang more true to me after I read that passage.
So what are we working for here on this earth? What are our goals? What to we want out of life? If it's all about possessions, keeping up with the Jones' and acquiring as much stuff as we can, we're probably traveling down a bumpy and mucky road that will dead end into a place I know I don't want to end up. As I contemplated over this passage, I also thought of Philippians 3 and even went back and read that chapter. I encourage you to stop reading this and go read that chapter, then come back and finish reading the rest of this post.
Welcome back. The word that stuck in my head after I finished reading all of those wonderful words is also the title of this post, ENDURE! That word offered such encouragement to me. Knowing that if we do endure, if we do keep on truckin', we will end up where? REIGNING WITH HIM! So if we can just endure, if we can just trust in Him, if we can believe that He is enough (see Job) and endure through everything that life can and will throw at us, we will end up reigning with Him. After really thinking about that, many of my so called problems in life didn't seem to be very problematic. So if things in your life feel like they're going so badly that you don't even want to get out of bed some days, or face the world, you must endure. If you're short on solutions and feel like your prayers aren't being heard, endure. If you feel like everything you do seems to turn out differently than what you expected, endure. If everything is going wrong and you just feel like giving up, endure. And when you feel like it will never get better, most definitely endure.
Remember, our time on this earth is minuscule, like a spec of sand on a beach. We are only here a very short time and when we depart this world, all the possessions we've gained will be gone and won't mean a darn thing. It's what we leave behind as a witness of Christ that is important. How we share our faith with and serve others. What we leave to our children, family and friends as Christ's ambassadors is what matters. If we strive for worldly pleasures until the day we die, it's very possible that we may have already lived. However, if we strive for what pleases God, what glorifies His name, furthers His kingdom and spreads His word, then in death we will end up living forever. The treasures of this world are short lived, but the treasures that await us if we endure are forever.
Last year our small group Cornerstone did a 6 week study on the book of John. Love is a consistent theme throughout that book. Most of us are familiar with the following scripture, which is in that book, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another", John 13:34-35. Sounds easy enough when you read it, but putting it into action in our every day lives, well let's just say, that's not so easy.
If some of you are like me, you struggle with "loving" certain people in your life, whether that be a co-worker, a certain "friend", someone from your church or yes, even a family member. So how do we often handle those that just aren't easy to love? Here are some of the ways I've done so in the past. Avoid them, don't talk to them, ignore/don't acknowledge them when I see them or give them a very disingenuous greeting, talk about them to others, just remove them from your life and here's an oldie but goody, I'll love them when they love me, or when they apologize. Wow, that's really hard to see in print and even harder to admit that at one time or another, I have unfortunately used everyone of those methods.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about loving others, especially because I've been struggling with some relationships in my life. And these aren't just casual friends or occasional acquaintances, these are family members and decades long friends. Maybe you have some of the same struggles in your life. It's hard to love someone when you think they've wronged you, whether real or perceived, or done the same to someone you love. Or maybe they think differently than you, so obviously you're right and they're wrong. Or maybe their solution to a problem is in direct conflict with your solution. Or maybe they're just one of those people that are hard to love. So what do you do? I could say love them anyway, but for many of us, that's just not possible. It's easy to say, but good luck doing it!
I'd like to suggest a much smaller step and possible easier solution. This isn't a cop out, but something to bridge that divide between not loving and eventually loving. I personally am not strong enough in some circumstances and with some people to just love, though I strive to get there some day. That doesn't mean I should just give up on that situation or that person. This takes me back to one of my favorite sayings, "it's better to start small than not at all." Many of you have heard me use this before and I can't think of a better place to institute that quip.
So here's my solution, how about just being kind. Maybe it starts with a genuine greeting the next time you see "that person". Like making eye contact, having positive body language, or even a warm handshake. That's much easier to do, right? It might not sound like much, but go back and review some of the ways I handled these situations. Which has the potential to have a more positive outcome? Now am I saying this will always work? I'd like to think so, but it might not. However, what will it probably do for you and I believe in most instances, for the other person? How about removing our self-righteous attitudes, ridding ourselves of pride, releasing stubbornness and softening our hardened hearts. Now that's good, right? Then the next thing you know, that cordial but well meaning greeting or handshake is now a heartfelt hug and before you know it, you have found a new friend, or rekindled an old friendship. Again I ask, that's good, right? Can it really be something so small, so simple? Can it really be that easy? Yes, I believe it can and it all starts with a little kindness.
Though I still fail at this often, I have got it right a few times as well. And as I have come to see, others have thankfully got it right with me too. And those are stories that I love to share with people, but for now, let me close with this. Let's just try and be more kind to each other every day. And before you know it, guess what might just be peeking around the corner?
We left our church family in late October of 1942 getting used to the new Sunday morning schedule which had the Morning Worship service at 9:30 and Sunday School at 10:30 with the end of Sunday morning activities at 11:30 rather than 12 noon. My guess was that the shortening of time spent in the church on Sunday morning was in response to a nation-wide government request to save coal – nay, stronger than a request – coal was rationed. Our church boilers were fired by coal in 1942. Other items rationed were gasoline, tires, sugar, coffee, and meat. New cars were no longer available for purchase and would not be until sometime after the war’s end in 1945. (Cars were manufactured in late 1945, but they were the 1946 models.) Many industries were converted from supplying items for domestic use to supplying items needed for the war. Price controls were established to ensure that the scarcity of so many products wouldn’t result in their being sold for much higher amounts than the average family could afford. Life for everyone in the U.S. had changed rapidly since that devastating Sunday in December of the prior year. Just south and west of Girard by about 25 miles, a new dam was being constructed on the upper part of the Mahoning River in Berlin Township. Its purpose was to ensure that water could be held back from flooding the steel mills during spring rains, and then released during summer droughts to ensure that the mills had sufficient water to produce steel at maximum production. The Milton Dam had been completed in 1916, creating the lake in 1917. The increased steel production since that time required more ability to control the flow of the river. The dam in Berlin Township was completed in late October of 1942. Both dams would be guarded around the clock to prevent any sabotage, as they were essential to providing the steel we needed to produce the planes, ships, tanks, shells, and any other steel related items needed for the war.
In spite of being bombarded with constant war news, church life went on. The Official Board met on November 4th. The meeting received good financial news from both the Sunday School Supt. and the Trustees. The Sunday School could now donate $1,000 to the Building Fund. The Building Fund had suffered terribly during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The new church had just been completed before the Stock Market crash of 1929. During the depression years of the early and mid thirties, the church simply could not afford to pay on their large mortgage.
Many times the Board would wonder which bills it could pay that month. Our prior Minister, Rev. Hilberry, often got his paycheck several weeks late. Now, with our country at war, the steel mills were working around the clock. The unemployment rate was practically zero. And our church was finally able to seriously tackle the building fund. And they did. The Trustees report to the Official Board was that the Building Fund was in good shape. They would keep working at paying off that mortgage throughout the war years until it was paid off at last.
Near the end of November came Thanksgiving Day. It has always been a family celebration and the year 1942 was no exception. Our church families gathered around their tables, and gave thanks for living here in the U.S., not where the war was raging in Europe, Asia, Africa and the high seas. They prayed for family members already in the fight, and for those about to be drafted. And they prayed for our country, and our country’s young men and also young women going wherever they were sent to defend us all.
November, 1942 Our church family seventy-five years ago.
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