Monday, June 22, 2009

My In-laws In The Paper!

When I read this article that was on the front page of Keith's home town's newspaper, I thought it would be good to post here:

Son gets to mourn father buried in France


When Edwin Ellis Blessing tells his story, he tells it slowly, pausing for two or three seconds between each sentence. Sometimes, he pauses midsentence.

He doesn’t do this because he is forgetful. He tells the story slowly because he is talking about his father.

When Blessing was 5, his father, Edwin Lawrence Blessing, died fighting with the U.S. Army’s 714th Tank Battalion in Germany in World War II.

Blessing grew up with a shadow of his father, and had only fleeting memories of him — like the time he was home on furlough or when he first left home to learn how to operate a Sherman tank.

Blessing, the oldest of three boys, learned about his father from photographs and through anecdotes told by his mother. “All my life, she spoke of him, and that’s the only way I could really know him,” Blessing said.

But the pictures and the stories and even his father’s medals and commemorative flag could only do so much.

Fast forward to March 2000. Blessing, retired from Citgo, was working as a security guard in an office building downtown.

As he tells this part of the story, Blessing still seems a little surprised at the whole situation.

One quiet Saturday, stockbroker and former state Rep. Bob Jones entered the building. He had a French quickstudy book under his arm.

After a greeting, Blessing asked about the book, and Jones told him that he was brushing up on his French because his daughter lives in France and he planned to see her in July.

Blessing, always one to make conversation, told Jones his father was buried in France during World War II. Jones asked where, but Blessing said he wasn’t sure, that it happened 55 years ago.

Jones took down the basic information and said he would check up on it. A month or so later Jones told Blessing he had found the cemetery — Lorraine Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France — and asked if he would like him to go during his trip.

At this point in the story, Blessing pauses for longer than three seconds.

Near the end of July, Jones returned and gave Blessing a package of pictures.

There were photos of the sprawling cemetery — the largest U.S. military burial ground in Europe — and of his father’s grave, with a wreath Jones had ordered for it.

“I must have looked through those pictures 40 times,” Blessing said.

A week later, Jones told Blessing that he had bought some stock and that if it went up to $50 a share, he would send Blessing and his wife, Peggy, to France.

Blessing protested, telling Jones he really didn’t have to do that. Jones said he wanted to.

In late August, the stock hit $50 a share and Jones asked Blessing when he wanted to leave for France.

Blessing picked September. After an 11-hour flight, Blessing and his wife spent the first day touring Paris.

Jones’ son-in-law’s brother, Benoit, then drove them the five hours to Saint-Avold to the cemetery.

As he tells the rest of the story, Ed’s voice is barely above a whisper, and he talks about everything in specific detail.

The walk from the visitor’s center to the grave was almost a quarter-mile. Blessing walked up behind the grave, so he could not tell it was his father’s grave at first.

Jones, who was in Australia attending the Olympics, had called and ordered another wreath.

When cemetery workers know someone is coming to visit a grave, they put black sand in the name on the marker to make it stand out more.

And when Blessing walked around and saw his father’s name, Edwin Lawrence Blessing, he stopped and stared and his knees felt weak.

He says he still can’t describe the feeling. But it’s safe to assume he gets it when he tells his story or when he looks at the photos.

“So this is where you’ve been my whole life,” he said aloud to the grave.

At this point in his story, Blessing relaxes, and his voice returns to its normal volume. The zen-like gaze he maintained during the telling is gone.

“We stayed there for two hours, just visiting, you know,” Blessing said. “And we went back the next day to visit the grave, and I said good-bye to him.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Literature Has Its Origin in Christ

I'm good at having random thoughts. Yesterday, I read an article about how in the Old Testament, Christ was hidden in types and shadows, but is revealed in the New Testament. So I was washing dishes last night and listening to Skillet and I was thinking about all of the terms that I learned in my junior high English classes about stories - similes, metaphors, foreshadowing, etc. I read Lord of the Flies somewhere around 7th or 8th grade, and Mrs. Jowers, our incredibly intelligent teacher, told us about Simon, the Christ-figure in the story.

It occurred to me that without Christ, there would be no literary elements with which to tell stories. Jesus IS the ultimate foreshadow, type, figure, simile, metaphor, etc. Every story told in every culture exists because of the ultimate story that has been told. God Himself created language to communicate with us, and for us to communicate with each other and He also gave us the gift of the written word. Words are important to God - words convey truth...Jesus IS the Word. This reminds me of the NLC newsletter article I wrote last month:

A couple of months ago, I had a problem with my cell phone, so I called and spoke with a support tech about the issue. We were on the phone for several minutes while I tried to figure out how to retrieve information off of my phone. I apologized to him for taking so long, and he said that he often had to put customers on hold for a while, too, and he then said, “that’s just karma for you!”

I told him that I was a Christian and that the idea of karma was Buddhist and was not a biblical theme. He asked me if I knew the scene from The Matrix where one of the characters says that words don’t really mean anything, so when he said “karma” he really didn't mean anything by it.
I then asked him how can we convey information accurately if words don’t have any meaning. If I ask for a Coke at McDonalds, what’s to keep them from giving me a fish sandwich instead? I told him that words do have meaning, and they must have meaning, otherwise nothing would be true. (I didn’t mention to him the fact that he actually used words to say that words have no meaning.)

After fixing my phone issue, we talked for about 20 more minutes about the Bible and world religions. He was so sure that he was a believer in Christ, yet he embraced everything that the world says is true and nothing that Christ said is true. Sharing the gospel with him was a challenge, to be sure! He agreed with everything I said, then completely disagreed with it the next moment.

Catching you up

Micah graduated from Kindergarten on May 26th! Yes, I am really behind posting this! My mom and aunt came to see him graduate and we had mexican food for lunch and Red Robin for dinner. It was a good day!

I've tried twice to throw this broken dress-up box away. This picture was taken the first time I tried. The girls decided it was the perfect place to have a snack and watch a movie.

Nathan was just lying on the floor, minding his own business, when Bethany went to lay on him. He immediately grabbed her hair and held on to it while I went to get the camera. Bethany's face was priceless. She hated having her hair pulled, but by golly she wasn't taking her head off of his stomach! He finally let go and all was right in the world again.