Commentary

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to 2013 when I finally had an opportunity to go to Ireland. I found a tour that would allow me to visit parts

stone wall hedges

stone wall hedges

Leprchaun Crossingof England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With ancestors from four of those five countries, I wanted to explore the lands of my roots. 

Ireland was as beautiful as all the pictures, travelogues, and stories promised.

Pieris Flaming Silver 'Lily-of-the-valley'

Pieris Flaming Silver ‘Lily-of-the-valley’

The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the scenery spectacular. There are many delightful places I sojourned but here I’ll share just a few.

One stop was The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Here you can walk

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

on over 40,000 hexagonal basaltic columns that resulted

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

from volcanic eruptions. As one might expect, there is a legend that tells of the giant who built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight a Scottish giant. It is no surprise that one can also find similar basalt formations across the water in Fingals Cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa.

In Dublin I visited Trinity College Library to see the famed Book of Kells.

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library

These colorful illuminated medieval Gospels were produced in a monastery in the early 8th century on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, in honor of Saint Columba and later taken to Ireland. While there are 680 illuminated pages of the medieval Gospels, the library only displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing an illustration and the other displaying typical text pages. The library itself is a sight to behold with its mammoth book filled cases stretching to the ceiling. Dozens of busts of well known authors are mounted at the edge of each aisle.

Four Evangelist Symbols In the Public Domain

Four Evangelist Symbols
In the Public Domain

Book of Kells In the Public Domain

Book of Kells
In the Public Domain

 

 

         

 

 

 

Traveling around Dublin you will spot the famous colorful Dublin Doors, of eighteenth

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors

century Georgian homes. Strict building guidelines governed the homes making them closely resemble each other, so residents began painting their front doors vibrant colors and installing ornate door-knockers to show their individuality.

Driving through Belfast, you will see many vivid murals of scenes and people painted on the sides of buildings

Murals of The Troubles

Murals of The Troubles

. These paintings remind us of the three decades in Northern Ireland called The Troubles, a period of continual strife between factions wanting

independence from, or remaining loyal to, Britain. Many efforts at finding an agreeable political solution failed until the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in recent years.

Shamrock 2To learn more about ST. PATRICK ~ British Patron Saint of Ireland, visit my blogpost from last year.

http://janetgrunst.com/st-patrick-british-patron-saint-of-ireland

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Remembering September 11, 2001 ~ And Two Passengers on Flight 93

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Blog, Commentary, History | 6 comments

Flag

Some incidents impact a nation so dramatically that people never forget where they were when they learned of the event ― September 11, 2001 was such a day. 

I was living in northern Virginia and working at the Community Bible Study National Service Center located in Reston Virginia. Since it was early September it was at the time of year that many of our CBS classes around the country were just getting underway again.  All the staff members attended one of the local classes, and a number of my co-workers were at class that morning.

I was in the office when we learned of the news, so immediately the television was turned on and many gathered around to watch and learn of the unfolding events ― and to pray.  Our normal office routine allowed for a time every morning when we would gather and pray.

Because of the office’s location in the Washington D C metropolitan area, we were even more impacted because the Pentagon was not far away. Some of our staff either knew people or had family serving in the military. My Navy son was stationed in Florida. My youngest son was a student at the Virginia Military Institute miles away in Lexington, Virginia. He was impacted by the attack on the Pentagon as he was on guard duty at the time and was one of many who had to deliver tragic news to fellow students about their parents. And then our staff heard that Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, PA was probably intended for the White House or the Capitol.

What we would soon learn was that two of the passengers of Flight 93 were two Community Bible Study Leaders, Don and Jean Peterson. Don was a CBS Teaching Director and Jean was a CBS Prayer Chairman. They lived in New Jersey and were on their way to Yosemite National Park in California for a vacation. They were offered the opportunity to take Flight 93 instead of their later scheduled flight, and took it.

The courageous narrative of how the passengers and crew members aboard the plane planned and overtook the hijackers is powerful.  There also were many stories of heroism in New York and Washington. 

In the days following September 11 flags appeared everywhere, churches were filled.

And for a time, the United States of America was just that ― united.

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VIRGINIA IS NOT JUST FOR LOVERS

Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Blog, Commentary, History | Comments Off on VIRGINIA IS NOT JUST FOR LOVERS

. . . it is also for historical film lovers.

Those of us who love history, look forward to movies or television programs that feature an era, event, location, or person we find fascinating. It’s even more fun if it is filmed in a location where you live or work. And, there is always the chance that you might get a chance to be a walk on or an extra. Here are some movies filmed in Virginia.

 

REVOLUTIONARY WAR ERA FILMS

 

TURN ~ A Revolutionary War era series shown on AMC about the Culper Ring, America’s first intelligence organization. It was based on the Alexander Rose book Washington’s Spies.   

Shirley Plantation

Shirley Plantation

TURN was filmed in numerous Virginia locations, Doswell, Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown near Ashland, Kittiewan Plantation, Westover Plantation, CentreHillMuseum, Farmer’s Bank, Petersburg Farmer’s Market, Shirley Plantation, Southside Railroad Depot.

 

JOHN ADAMS ~ A miniseries based on the David McCullough’s Pulitzer prize winning biography of John Adams

JOHN ADAMS was filmed in various Colonial Williamsburg locations

The Wren Building at the College of  William & Mary

The Wren Building
at the College of
William & Mary

including The Wren Chapel in the Christopher Wren Building at the College of William & Mary.

There is nothing unusual about seeing folks wandering around in period garb anyplace in the greater Williamsburg, Virginia area. One day, while some scenes of John Adams were being filmed, I happened to be doing some errands downtown. When I glanced across the street at the set, I was taken aback a bit by the snow-covered lawn in the middle of summer.

 

 

CIVIL WAR ERA FILMS

 

GODS AND GENERALS ~ An epic movie, based on Jeff Shaara’s God’s and Generals detailing many of the battles that led up to Gettysburg.

GODS AND GENERALS was filmed in Lexington, Richmond,

 

Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg. One of the filming locations was Robert Duvall’s estate in Virginia. He played Robert E. Lee in the film.

 

 

Virginia Military  Institute

Virginia Military
Institute

GODS AND GENERALS  was released in 2003 and is the prequel to the 1993 film Gettysburg. The movie is predominantly about Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson when he experienced numerous successes against the Union from 1861 to 1863. One of the film locations was The Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After Jackson graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican-American War he became a professor at VMI. When the Civil War began, Jackson re-entered the Army and took command of the VMI Corps of Cadets, where the students began training recruits to fight.

My younger son, a student at VMI at the time was one of the many cadet extras in the film. VMI looks much as it did during the Civil War so it did not require many alterations to the façade of the University.

 

LINCOLN ~ Addresses the last few months of Lincoln’s life that focuses his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment. It was based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns-Goodwin.

LINCOLN was filmed in multiple locations in and around Richmond and Petersburg. 

 

COLD MOUNTAIN ~ A Civil War era novel based on the book Cold Mountain written by Charles Frazier.

COLDMOUNTAIN was filmed in location near Petersburg, Carter’s Grove Plantation in Williamsburg, and Belle Isle in the James River near Richmond

 

Back in the early seventies, the filming of a scene from HAROLD AND MAUDE took place in downtown Palo Alto, California next to my office. Many of us who worked in the area would spend our lunch time watching part of the fascinating process of making movies.

 

Have you ever had the opportunity to live or work where you could observe a television program or movie being filmed?

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FATHER’S DAY

Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 in Blog, Commentary, Uncategorized | Comments Off on FATHER’S DAY

Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can bring on a multitude of differing emotions, some painful  . . . some pleasant.

Some people will experience sadness on Father’s Day.  It may be a reminder of the loss of a beloved parent. Or it may be because not everyone has had a positive experience with their own father growing up, or as an adult.

Dad and the kids. I'm the short one.

Dad and the kids. I’m the short one.

 

It’s been said that the greatest gift a father can give his child is to love and respect their mother.

 

I was fortunate to have that, and it provided security and stability for me and my siblings. My father came from very humble beginnings, without any parental encouragement or support. Still, through hard

work and a desire for an education he got his degree in civil engineering from Ohio State University during the depression. I couldn’t ask for a better role model of integrity, loyalty, honesty, personal responsibility,

Ken - the best father a person could have

Ken – the best father a person could have

perseverance and thrift. I respected and loved this very reserved and quiet man.

 

 

This Father’s Day, I celebrate my precious husband who is not only a wonderful father, but has been like a father to my sons. I also honor my sons and a son-in-law. These three men are doing a terrific job loving their wives and raising their children.

 

Chris & Christy's Family

Chris & Christy’s Family

 

 

Jeff & Jill's family

Jeff & Jill’s family

Jimmy & Sanja's Family

Jimmy & Sanja’s Family

 

Some people who have had a poor, or non-existent, relationship with their earthly father may have a more difficult time understanding or accepting the love, provision, and protection from our Heavenly Father. My prayer is that those living with that disappointment, may come to know that by opening their heart to a relationship with Jesus, they can experience the unconditional love, and the provision, presence, protection, and peace with the Perfect Father. 

 

 

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A Local Tragedy ~ And The Rest of the Story

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Blog, Commentary, Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Local Tragedy ~ And The Rest of the Story

“You intended to harm me,

but God intended it for good

to accomplish what is now being done,

the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Sometimes you hear a story that makes such an impact it’s hard to get it out of your mind. Yesterday in church, one of our pastors asked for prayers for the families of a tragedy that took place last Friday in Norfolk. We did not know the details at the time.

Since then we’ve learned that a young man, 17-year-old Mark Rodriguez was inside his car on his way home from Norfolk Christian Schools graduation activities when he was killed by a suspect on an apparent random shooting spree. According to a newspaper article, the teen was a rising senior and was on his way home to Virginia Beach, after dropping off a friend off in Norfolk when he was murdered.

Police say the trigger-man was 29-year-old James Brown. A police officer and the gunman were also killed later in the evening.

A former teacher said Rodriguez was “wise beyond his years, a leader in the classroom and in church”.

“All of us who interacted with him just saw a very special young man with great talents and great gifts that we believe God used in a powerful way, even if he was only allowed to be here for 17 years,” noted Pat McCarty, Head of Norfolk Christian Schools.

Mark was a photographer who posted beautiful pictures to his blog, and

Mark Rodriguez

Mark Rodriguez

sometimes he also posted his thoughts. He wrote about his passion for photography, people, and God.

“By opening my eyes to the world around me, I began to realize how blessed I am and how much I take for granted. Within a couple of years, I developed a love for people and decided I wanted to show these people how awesome they are, and challenged myself to capture their personalities and passions in photography.”

Mark wasn’t afraid to show his faith. He was involved with music ministry at Norfolk Christian Schools and served as a member of the praise and worship team.

Mark Rodriguez parents

Mark Rodriguez parents

Mark is survived by his parents and three younger siblings. Mark’s father, Carlos, serves as a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, where Mark also played bass guitar for worship services.

A Memorial Celebration service for Mark has been planned for Wednesday, June 4 at 1 p.m. at Tabernacle Church in Norfolk.

People will ask why such a senseless crime, why did we lose such a fine young man? We live in a fallen world where evil often seems to prevail. But God is greater and He can use evil deeds and tragedies such as this as an opportunity to reach the lost.

This tragedy has touched many lives, but there is something remarkable about God’s presence and provision in the midst of the chaos. On April 5th, 2014, Mark wrote a post about heaven on his website, never knowing he would see heaven so soon.

God knew in April the events that would transpire last Friday. And I believe the Lord inspired Mark to post his thoughts on Heaven when he did. What a gift for Mark’s family, friends, and strangers who will read it and see the certainty of heaven that Mark had; a hope that only people who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior can have. It won’t minimize the loss of this remarkable young man, but perhaps God will use it to draw others to Himself and grow His Kingdom. That’s my prayer.

Mark’s blogpost on HEAVEN is below or go to his website:
HTTP://MARKRODRIGUEZPHOTOGRAPHY.COM/2014/04/05/HEAVEN/

HEAVEN 4.5.14
“I’ve been meditating on heaven a lot lately, and I must say, it wells my eyes with tears of joy every now and then. What a beautiful thought that one day, I will be completely in the presence of God and will actually be able to feel the magnitude of all his love and peace with no earthly fears or worries to distract me. The joy that I feel now, the serenity I feel now, will finally be made perfect.
The presence of God here on earth is enough to make me shudder in wonder. I’ve had some incredible moments in life that can only be explained as miracles where I see my Abba, my Father move in love for me so powerfully; it brings me to my knees in amazement. To think that one day I will be perfectly and totally in his presence….I’m definitely going to need a heavenly body because the joy he fills me with now sometimes makes me feel like I’m about to explode!
I love the image of Heaven because it is perfect, perfect peace. Every quarrel, every hurt, it’s all gonna be resolved. All of God’s children will be together and we won’t hurt each other anymore; we’ll finally understand how to love perfectly. And the fact that we’ll all be worshiping the Lord together in one place, forever….that amazes me.

It makes me so excited to think of the wedding feast awaiting us when we go to be with the Lord. I imagine streets filled with rejoicing, loud trumpets, wedding bells….I’m sure it’ll be far more incredible than I can comprehend now, and I love that.

God is super good. I can’t wait to be with him forever
When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

 

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MEMORIAL DAY ~ Is The Unknown Soldier Truly Unknown?

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on MEMORIAL DAY ~ Is The Unknown Soldier Truly Unknown?

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Have you ever heard a story that was so unforgettable that you even remember where you were when it was told? I can recall such a story our teacher shared with our class in May of 1959, an account that has remained burned in my memory ever since. It goes like this:

There was a little boy, about five years old who was the delight of his mother and father. One day he raced outside and began playing near a tulip bed. His blond curls were almost as yellow as the tulips. When the sun came out from behind a cloud, several yellow butterflies hovered over his head. His mother marveled and said, “They think you’re a flower, Dick. It’s good luck to have a butterfly land on your head. A butterfly is the symbol of immortality.”

Cloudless Sulpher Butterfly

Cloudless Sulpher Butterfly

 

The mother told her husband of the butterfly event and they looked for pictures of yellow butterflies to be able to identify what variety they were. It was determined that they were Cloudless Sulphur butterflies that migrate from north to south and back each spring and autumn. They often hide near the ground and only come out when the sun shines.

The young boy’s father died when he was only eleven which drew themother and son even closer to each other. According to his mother, Dick continued to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. He grew into a loving man of upstanding character and he was his mother’s joy.

Even though he completed his education at a university, when war in Europe broke out and America joined in, he decided not to enter service as an officer but as a dough boy.

Like any mother she expressed her concern for him, but Dick replied, “The best thing to do with a life is to give it away, you taught me that and this certainly is the best way to give it, for our America. Nothing can happen that’s unbearable.” After his training, Dick was shipped overseas, and for a long time the mail they shared kept he and his mother as close as possible. But the day came when she received a notice that Dick was missing in action.

The mother never lost hope, even as the war drew to a close and the men began returning home. She thought of her son as a symbol of all that was good in America even if he never returned home.

Congress approved a resolution March 4, 1921, providing for the burial of an unidentified American Soldier at a memorial to the war to be built in Arlington National Cemetery. Dick’s mother felt certain that the Unknown Soldier was her beloved son. She saved money so that she could travel to and attend the dedication of the monument and she asked God for a sign that it was her precious Dick who was to be interred there.

On Memorial Day that same year an Unknown Soldier was exhumed from each of four cemeteries in France. These remains were placed in identical caskets and in October a highly decorated, wounded veteran chose the Unknown by placing white roses on one of the caskets. This would be the Unknown Soldier that would represent all of the unknowns. On a very solemn Armistice Day Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies in Arlington. Inscribed on the tomb are the words,

“Here Rests in Honored Glory

An American Soldier Known But To God.”

Dick’s mother was at the Navy Yard when the ship carrying the flag draped coffin arrived and she was in attendance at the long ceremony. The next day she was among thousands who attended the internment; still certain it was her son who would represent all the missing. She only needed the sign she believed God would provide. She gave a soldier her own flowers to add to the many already gracing the grave. When the ceremony ended the attendees drifted away, and she was left to wonder, where was God’s sign?

She went home to Kentucky but returned to Arlington Cemetery the next April. She scattered yellow tulips on the grave and pleaded with God for the reassurance she sought. She bent and kissed the yellow tulips and got up to leave. As the noon hour bells rung, she turned to give a last look at the tomb where she saw a mass of Cloudless Sulphur butterflies hovering over the tomb before lighting on the yellow tulips. She believed it was the sign she had asked for, and was convinced God had given her the sign that here rested her son, a proud and patriotic American still serving his nation.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 

Over the years I’ve wondered about the veracity of this story and, with access that the internet allows, it was easy to research. Yellow Butterflies, by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1922. Whether the author’s story was entirely fiction or based on actual events remains a mystery, much like the American WWI hero entombed at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington.

To learn more about the fascinating history of the Tomb of the Unknowns and the remarkable sentinels who stand guard every day, see:

http://www.army.mil/article/38013/

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