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This is a bronze sculpture of an American soldier paying tribute to his fallen comrades after the Korean War which was waged from 1950 to 1953. It is often referred to as the Forgotten War because of the great conflict of WWII preceding it.  However, it was a bloody and difficult war resulting in an armistice rather than a mutual declaration to name the conflict as over. A demilitarized zone (DMZ) was created separating the north and the south from one another. It is the most heavily armed area in the world. As most know, this has been in the news of late as North and South Korea are attempting to put an official end to this debacle.

As with all wars, many civilians lost their lives in addition to the soldiers who sacrificed much. It saddens me that so many paid the ultimate price for a stalemate. At the same time, I am grateful for those who fought and sacrificed in behalf of freedom for half of the peninsula of Korea. Perhaps someday the north and south will unite as did Vietnam. The North is devoid of democracy and justice and the people live in a state of misery, ignorance and subjugation. My heart goes out to these citizens.

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America is not a nation of innocence when it comes to military conflicts and of war. Blood is on our hands. I wish we were free from self-serving bloodshed such as what we caused upon our own Native Americans, African slaves and one another during our great Civil War. But, we have also sacrificed much to the betterment of all mankind by defending and promoting freedom whenever the call to arms was issued. Not all agree with each conflict. I certainly don’t, however, I support those whom answered the call to do what they think is right and for the furthering of democracy.

Man, regardless of nationality, is a self-serving being. I stand amazed at how some European nations remained neutral during the Nazi terror of WWII. In the Pacific theater of war all became enemies of a misguided empirical nation. I am grateful that my father and uncle, along with so many other young men and women from various countries gave themselves for this cause of freedom. Freedom for others and not always for their own peoples.

There is still much of the world in armed conflict. America’s best are still fighting and dying for freedom for others. Various nations are in extreme struggles just to keep their nation’s alive and safe. May we never forget those who sacrificed so much and are still doing so today. I encourage all to honor a vet or family member this weekend whether  he or she is abroad or on the home front. They are most deserving.  I am reminded that their sacrifices allow me to write this post and bask in freedom’s light.



I would like to share a story with you. It is a story about life, and about a quest for answers. As a disclaimer, I have read more impressive and improbable stories that caused me to shake my head in utter amazement. This story is not so grand as that. However, it is a pleasant story which has several obvious and noteworthy events which could be construed as serendipity.

As you can discern from my blog page description, my mother was a war bride. She was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia’s capital). She had one parent who was Serbian and the other who was Croatian. My grandfather joined the Yugoslav army to fight the Nazi’s and was never heard of again. My grandmother died of a digestive disorder, perhaps cancer, during WWII. My mom had a sister, Milice, who stayed in Belgrade while my mom left home (after the Nazis occupied Belgrade) and wandered about Europe for nearly five years during the war. Her story is amazing in and of itself. Milice eventually married a good man named Tommy in 1963 and they lived in the same apartment for the next thirty-plus years until they both passed away. They did not have children. In 1980 my mom visited her sister and brother-in-law in Belgrade. Below is our photograph of them together. This is relevent to my story. Mom is second from left, next is Tommy, then Milice. The others are friends of the family. As a side-note, my sisters and I visited our aunt and uncle (with our mom) when we were children, but never saw them again. We never knew our maternal grandparents. IMAG0055This story begins in May of 2013 when Cheryl and I vacationed in Croatia. Due to a missed flight connection we ended up being rerouted to another city with a five-hour layover before we arrived at our intended destination, the Split airport (if interested, I wrote about this in my first post about Croatia). It was midnight when we arrived and an hour later when we checked in at Le Meridian Hotel in Podstrana. Due to the late hour and exhaustion, we slept in later than anticipated. We were rather bummed because we wanted to eat a hearty breakfast after traveling for so long. However, our delay turned out to be a blessing. We had a late lunch on the veranda of our hotel which overlooks the Adriatic Sea. There were but a handful of people eating at 2:30 pm so we had a generous amount of time with our waiter, Ivan, from Omis. Ivan was wonderful, and was willing to discuss anything we asked, including politics and the aftermath of the 90s war. He was charming and most helpful, and was a very fine waiter. He is also a martial arts instructor and excels at both of his careers.Croatia 457I mentioned to Ivan that my mom was from Belgrade and that my sister, Tracy, was going to tour much of the former Yugoslavia in early September, and that she was going to Belgrade to learn more about our aunt and uncle. To my surprise, Ivan has family in Belgrade, including a cousin that he offered to assist my sister, her husband and their companions when they arrived. As the date of my sister’s arrival grew closer, Ivan contacted his cousin, Marijan, who in turn interacted directly with Tracy. Upon their arrival in Belgrade at the end of August, Marijan was contacted and he offered to assist Tracy and Dale in locating the apartment building where our aunt and uncle lived for so long a period. DSC_0139He took them to the building, but there was no Tommy or Milice. They died in 1993 and 1997, respectively. With little hope of gaining any new information, they almost left. However, Tracy noticed a woman hanging laundry in the courtyard of the complex and decided to visit with her. When Tracy approached Jelena she told my sister that she normally hangs her laundry on the roof, and didn’t know why she chose to hang it in it the courtyard that day. Tracy, with the help of Marijan, began to question Jelena about our aunt and uncle. She showed her the photograph, and to Tracy’s amazement Jelena knew the people in it. On top of that she identified the girl in the photo as her niece (husband’s side of the family). The woman next to my mom is Jelena’s mother-in-law. Her husband, Dan (not in the 1980 photo) remembered my mom’s visit, as he was about twelve years old at the time. Below is Jelena with Tracy and another photograph with Dan (Jelena’s husband) and Tracy.DSC_0153DSC_0171As this encounter between not-so-old friends continued, a new revelation was revealed by Jelena. Milice’s best friend, and a friend of her family, Selena, is still alive and lives in an upper room of the same apartment complex. In fact, Selena opened her window to hear what was taking place and then came down to greet my sister, her husband and their friends, Mike and Pam. By the way, Mike took all the photos, except for Ivan’s.DSC_0160Selena invited my sister and companions to her apartment for tea and conversation. She shared photographs, stories and details about Tommy and Milice. Below is Tracy, Selena and Pam inside Selena’s apartment which she has lived in for over forty years.DSC_0183 Selena told Marijan which cemetery our aunt and uncle were buried. He then took them to this famous cemetery where politicians, heroes, and dignitaries are interned. It took quite some time to find the location of the burial plot. Tommy and Milice were so poor they didn’t even have a headstone or an inscription on the concrete slab which was placed over their bodies. The cemetery employees were very helpful, as was Marijan who went above and beyond all expectations to assist my sister.DSC_0234There are still many unanswered questions about our mom’s early years and her family, especially because the war disrupted so many lives and eliminated most records. So, to have located the graves of Tommy and Milice is rather spectacular. In fact, I find this whole affair to be remarkable. Please consider these points. What are the odds that Cheryl and I would miss a flight, be rerouted to Dubrovnik, have a five-hour layover, then go back to Split before arriving at the hotel after midnight? This type of thing happens regularly, however, without this delay we wouldn’t have met Ivan who we didn’t see again while at this hotel. What are the odds that Ivan had a cousin in Belgrade who would help my sister? What are the odds that they would encounter Jelena who was hanging her laundry in an unusual place at just the exact time my sister arrived? What are the odds that Dan’s daughter and mom were in the photograph from 1980? And, what are the odds that Selena was home, provided insightful information about our relatives and mom and was able to direct Marijan to the cemetery where our aunt and uncle are buried? There has been a six month period since Tracy had this experience which has given me time to reflect and consider the odds. The odds are pretty good if each instance stands alone. But, that is not the case as they are a combined set of circumstances that fit together to reveal one remarkable story. I simply cannot attribute this experience to chance, coincidence or luck. I believe that the Grand Conductor orchestrated this entire scenario. I believe each appointment was divinely directed by Him. So, the next logical question is why? To be totally honest I don’t know why He would do such a kind thing for my sisters, Valerie and Tracy, and for me. Certainly it is not because we deserved or earned this gift. Instead, I simply accept this to be the truth: a loving God saw fit to bestow a blessing, borne out of love, for some of His children. And for that I am most grateful, and humbled.DSC_0164


Rocks Standing The Test of Time & Water


As a student of history I find the Second World War fascinating. Tragic, of course, but irresistible to study. I wish it, and all wars, were foreign concepts to us. However, I cannot ignore the reality of this conflict where man was at his best and worst during those times of monumental struggles. While studying the early stages of both the European and Pacific theaters of war, history tells us that the forces of evil overwhelmed their opponents. It took considerable time and effort for balance to be achieved and the proportion of defeats to become victories for the allies.

I pondered the sense and reality of being overwhelmed and what it must have felt like for both sides. What comes to mind when you consider this word, overwhelmed ? It is a very powerful word with many intense thoughts and feelings associated with it.

For the athlete, watching one team dominate another team; one boxer pummel another boxer; or one individual rule her opponent, can evoke a sense of helplessness for the defeated and energy for the winner. Whether the victor or the vanquished, the concept of being overwhelmed is very real for both parties.

For the over-worked, the seemingly endless days of pressure, deadlines and fatigue – the feeling that you will never catch-up – may simply wear you down. The thought of “Not again” and the reality of added responsibilities can lead to stress and disillusionment.

For mothers of young children, the daily routine and pressures associated with caring for her children, managing the household, balancing the budget, the endless trips to stores and events and appointments can certainly lead to exhaustion and feelings of futility.

For the over-extended; be it financial, time-related or with relationships, depression can result.

And for those who have endured years of chronic pain, without the hope for a cure, life can seem pretty pointless. Some suffer from the acute pain of losing a loved one with the hurting as real as any physical pain can be, and lasting just as long or longer. Then there are those who care for others who cannot care for themselves. These are special people, but the responsibility can become unbearable at times.

The sense of being overwhelmed is, well, overwhelming. This feeling may seem relentless – like powerful waves crashing on to a rocky shoreline, wearing away the stone, one resounding crash after another.

Our inherent “fight or flight” reaction to adverse (threatening) situations, especially over prolonged periods of time with little or no hope of relief, often results in our wanting to flee the situation. When trying to stand against the onslaught of a hurricane, escape often seems like the best choice. However, impulsive fleeing can lead to harmful behaviors and drastic consequences. As we struggle to understand what is happening to us, we become confused and lose objectivity.

The sense of being overwhelmed can cause physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual damage. Because of the feelings of confusion and hopelessness, we often attempt to medicate our symptoms. There are a variety of ways to do this; most of which harm not only ourselves, but those closest to us. What are we to do? How can we gain the upper hand and triumph over such adversity without turning to those things which ultimately end up hurting us?

My recommendation, based on personal experience, is to begin the journey towards safety, healing and wholeness by expressing our vulnerability to God. This step is difficult for most of us because it is an admission of weakness and reveals our inability to overcome adversity in our own strength. But this is exactly where God wants us. We must empty ourselves of pride and the false sense of self-sufficiency in order for Him to fill us with His power and His peace.

David, the shepherd boy-turned-king, expressed regularly his vulnerability and fears to the Lord through the Psalms. David, far from perfect, was highly favored by God because of his heart condition. Even after sinning, he returned to his God time and time again in an attitude of submission and humility. David learned to trust his Maker through repeated situations when his life was in jeopardy; as he confessed his inability to overcome his foe, he sought after God’s divine intervention. So must we.

In Psalm 61, David begins, “Hear my cry O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed.” He then asks God to “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” David goes on to say, “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” If you can’t relate to walled cities with fortified rock towers then consider a different image which serves the same purpose of protection and safety…an impenetrable place where the enemy can’t reach you.

Whatever your foe is at this present time, confess it, and your powerlessness to overcome it. Tell God the Father, who knows you and your circumstances intimately, that you need Him. Ask Him to help you, protect you, and to be near you. Call out to Him and ask Him to lead you to Christ the Lord. As you affirm Christ as the true Lord of your life, the sense of feeling overwhelmed will begin to dissipate. Sometimes the heaviness leaves immediately, and sometimes it takes awhile, but don’t give up.

Adjustments in lifestyle and circumstances will need to be made to reduce or eliminate the causes of your life feeling out of control, but one must be rescued before one can be free! As balance returns to your life, meditate on the words of David spoken in Psalm 62 when he said, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

May that become our proclamation and our reality.