theater, WWII

The Things We Remember Most About Our Presidents

I am fiercely patriotic.

I am proud to be an American and proud to have a dad who fought in three wars and taught me to love freedom and everything it stands for.

My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery.

This last year has not been a pretty one for the United States. We stood up for what we believed, but in the process we have been petty, hateful, and violent. I am not here to debate the rights and wrongs and how far it is ok to go when repaying evil with evil… but why don’t we just look at what the Bible teaches about that?

We have  seen death. Lots and lots of death. We have heard the horror stories of bodies piled up in New York City because they literally had no place to put them.

We saw a mob of Americans invade the Capitol.

We saw murder hornets.

Relief finally began to appear as a vaccine for Covid 19 was developed in record time.

Trump lost the election, but refused to admit defeat…..ever.

We’ve seen ugliness in our land, and we’ve seen it in each other.

But I’m still proud to be an American.

Here are my thoughts about the men who have served our country as President…well, the ones I can remember.

The first president I really remember was John F. Kennedy. I was in the second grade. I will never forget how I felt when they announced over the intercom that we were all being sent home early because evil had killed our President. We watched TV the rest of the day and evening devouring every bit of information we could. Our nation mourned.

1963-1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
Let’s face it. I remember Lady Bird Johnson better.
But if pressed, I’d say my memories are made up of the Vietnam War. Maybe that’s because my dad left us to go fight in that horrible war in 1968. I know Johnson didn’t start America’s involvement, but it seemed to escalate and divide our country under his leadership.

1969-1974 Richard Nixon
My memory starts to get a little better as I got older. Nixon lost his first bid for President to Kennedy. Many people blame his loss on how he appeared on TV. (This should have been our first warning as to how much the media would play into our decision making) He got American troops out of Vietnam. The Watergate Scandal. He resigned because he was facing impeachment.

1974-1977 Gerald Ford
He was the first man to become President in US history having  not been part of a presidential campaign, instead being appointed vice president by Nixon after Spiro T. Agnew resigned.  Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed as President.
Note: There was great controversy over this decision, but Ford said that our nation’s future hinged on ending the ordeal of Watergate and beginning the process of healing.
Great words. I wonder if anyone will lead us with those same sentiments or continue to accuse and point out failings and continue to stir up bitterness.

1977-1981 Jimmy Carter
He was a peanut farmer. He wanted to be known as a man of the people. There was high unemployment, rising inflation and an energy crisis. The Iran hostage crisis.

1981-1989 Ronald Reagan

Actor.

Reagan was fiercely opposed to communism and the spread of it. He was known for calling the Soviet Union an evil empire. When he took office the economy was in double-digit inflation and interest rates were near 20%. His approach to tax cuts and economic expansion became known as “Reaganomics”. The hostages in Iran that were held for 444 days, were released. The Iran-Contra affair happened reporting that Reagan authorized the sale of arms to Iran in order to free the hostages in Lebanon. I loved his speeches. Literally the man could convince me to buy snow. He was known as the “Great Communicator” for a good reason.  I wish all Presidents were like him. I know other people wouldn’t agree with me, but I loved the Reagan years.

1989-1993 George H. W. Bush

I admired him most for his military service. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery. He picked Dan Quayle to be his running mate…..need I say more? Operation Desert Storm.

1993-2001 Bill Clinton

He was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the relationship he had with Monica Lewinsky. “I did not have sex with that woman.”

2001-2009 George W. Bush

September 11, 2011. A day we will never forget. Terrorist Attacks against America in which over 3000 people were killed. In response American troops invaded Afghanistan. Hurricane Katrina devastated  the gulf coast and Bush was criticized for his slow response to the disaster.

2009-2017 Barack Obama

First African American President. “Obamacare”. The killing of Osama bin Laden. Legalization of Gay Marriage.

2017-2021 Donald Trump

Real Estate Developer and Reality TV star, but nothing like Reagan. Ran the campaign under the slogan “Make America Great Again.”  Beat Hillary Clinton. Entire Presidency was served with allegations of election interference, constant firings of his staff. He was impeached then acquitted and then impeached again. Our Economy did quite well and business enjoyed the take charge Trump, but with Trump came his mouth. If only he would have learned to keep it shut at the right times. COVID.  Trump refused to admit defeat after his campaign for reelection. Trump accused states of voter fraud. To end his four years he made a speech outside the Capitol where he vowed to never concede. After his speech a mob stormed the Capitol and five people died.

January 20, 2021–?? Joe Biden
Only time will tell.

If you are still with me and managed to read my musings I hope you will notice that even though the last four years were more rough than others, we have had a history of Presidents that made bad decisions.  Presidents who were impeached. Presidents who didn’t manage well or lead our country wrongly into wars or even managed to lead us into high inflation and unemployment.

If you look back through history you will see a group of men who were willing to serve and try to lead our country. Some failed.

But you know what I see? I see a group of Americans who God allowed to be in office.
We are “a nation under God.”

He rules.

Take comfort in this thought. God will rule these next four years as well.  I take comfort in the fact that God–not man–is in control. “The heart of the king-is in the hand of the Lord.”

I am proud to be an American.   What about you?

What do you remember about our Presidents? I’d love to know what you think! As always please share and comment!

Until next time–this is just me–talking to you– from the wings!

book review, christian, entertainment, reading, theater, WWII

From My Bookshelf

During the month of July I read 3 books. I know most of you are reading 3 books a week, but my little heart is just happy that I have managed to stumble back into something I have always enjoyed and yet somehow stopped doing!

The one good thing that came out of COVID is that I’ve managed to rediscover my love for books.

This month I tackled: When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent, Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon and The Sea Before Us by Saran Sundin.

When I Lay My Isaac Down was a very thoughtful gift from Naomi Rogers, a dear friend of mine. I had mentioned to her that I heard Carol Kent speak at a writer’s conference I attended on-line and was so moved by Carol’s story. Naomi heard my words and gifted me the book so generously.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/161291442X/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=

This book outlines eight transformational power principles Gene and Carol Kent learned in the process of facing the news that forever changed their lives: their twenty-five-year-old son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with an impeccable military record, shot and killed his wife’s ex-husband.

This book forever changed the way I will think about hope and faith and most of all community.

The book starts with this quote from Eric Liddell:

“Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.”

Carol tells her personal story explaining the loss she and her husband felt. She tells of her melted pride, her destroyed agenda and a heart sacrifice that she never dreamed she would have to make. With each step she reminds us that God is always in the middle of each circumstance whether we recognize Him or not.

Each chapter tells the story of what Carol and her husband learned along this journey and ends with discussion questions that would make this book a very interesting Bible study.

This is a convicting story of hope….not in our lives and personal goals, but in the God who is always working out His plan of love.

I also found it interesting to read the comments that people made to the Kent’s out of ignorance and how unfeeling it would seem to the person going through such loss. I have personally always struggled to say the “right” thing. It was so helpful to see the other perspective. I loved seeing the examples of how friends and family could minister in such creative ways.

One last thought. I LOVED the example of Abraham and what God asked of him when God asked him to “lay his Issac down.” What a wonderful thread that tied her whole story together.

Thank you, Carol Kent, for your wonderful testimony and inspiring all of us in so many different paths.

Who should read this? This book is good for all those who want to be challenged past their comfortable walk with Jesus. It is also great for those who are experiencing the pain of disappointment and loss. It isn’t a hard read, but it is a heart read.

Where the Lost Wander By Amy Harmon

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family on the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss. During this travel she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

After you have read a few of my book reviews it will become clear to you that Historical Fiction is definitely my favorite genre to read. This book did not disappoint. This book is filled with wonderful historical details and is really quite beautifully written. As a bonus the author gives notes at the end with extraordinary details of her own family history and what inspired this story.

This is definitely a love story, however, there is hardship and loss and survival that makes you keep turning page after page. I loved the characters and found myself cheering their loves and mourning their losses.

I loved learning more about Native American culture and giving myself time to consider how certain actions would have made them feel. I have always felt that pioneers did so many of them wrong. Looking back, we have made serious mistakes with other races and nationalities time after time. This is another book that will make you think about those actions.

I’m sure we will never know exactly how difficult the early pioneers had it when they traveled across America on the Oregon trail, but this book gives you a wonderful painting of what that could have been like.

My one negative is that the book began with a Prologue that was a serious spoiler so I kept reading the book anticipating the one big event. I wonder what it would be like to skip the prologue and just read from Chapter One? If I could go back and do that over, I would.

Warnings: There are several passages that are quite difficult to read. There is violence, massacres, a rape as well as other things. If you are sensitive to those things this is not a book for you.

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France – including those of her own family’s summer home – in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

This is Book #1 in a series SUNRISE AT NORMANDY. Of the three books I read this month, this was the easiest, fastest read. Hmmm. maybe it was an easy read because I enjoyed the story so much?

The story is well done. The characters drew me in and I was fascinated by the back story of both of the main characters which led to the reason they would act and react the way they did. In spite of that, they were lovable and I wanted them to be able to get past the mistakes they had each made individually and bask in the forgiveness of God!

Sarah writes with just the right amount of detail. You can lean into the time period and facts about the war and military so that the words paint an incredible picture. I loved the new British phrases I learned as well as the quirkiness of the cute Texan! I also loved thinking about all the backstory of preparations for D-Day about procedures I had never even given thought about.

If you are looking for a book that is a light romantic read with a touch of history thrown in or love books set in WWII. Then, I think this book is for you.

In case you wondered? I will be ordering the next two books in the series. I mean, we all need a little light romance read every once and awhile don’t we?

Warning: There are some mentions of premarital relationships.

That is it for this month. I hope you are reading. I know that it isn’t a past time that some enjoy, but it is so good for you! Will you try to read any of these?

Until next time,

Reba

anne frank, book revi, book review, reading, theater, titanic, WWII

One Book Can Change the World

“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.–Alberto Manguel

At the beginning of 2020 I read page after page of posts on Facebook from friends who beautifully recapped all the books they read during 2019. I was ashamed, informed, entertained and inspired. You see? I love to read, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but after reading post after post I decided that the bad habit needed to be broken and I resolved to read at least one book a month during 2020.

I started off great during January and February, but as I was working on “Trip to Bountiful.” reading became a huge luxury because I needed to spend so much time on my lines. I vowed that I would still get back to reading. I just needed to make sure my lines were firmly embedded in my brain before moving on.

Then, our world stopped and reading…well, reading became everything. I must admit, I spent the first part of quarantine reading about the virus and the dangers and all the theories behind it, but slowly I pulled my head away from that and decided I wanted to be entertained instead.

Why is it that some of us love to read and others make ourselves read and still others don’t do it at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that subject because I’m not sure I know the answer and I’d love to hear theories.

For now, I’d like to share my January-March reading experience with you.

I had the honor of being in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank last year. I actually started this book at that time, but just couldn’t fight way my through it. I finished it this year. I’m not sure I could have picked a better book to begin my new journey with books.

BY Anne Frank

Do you know the story? It is the real life account of a young girl during WWII. Anne’s father, Otto, has the forsite to prepare a place for his family and one other to hide from the Germans. Anne faithfully writes in her diary the day-to-day activities during their time in hiding. She was thirteen when she began detailing her accounts. Most of us think of reading this book for school, but I think I learned even more reading it as an adult. I’m inspired at Anne’s intelligence and how prolifically she writes. Was it because she was trapped with adults for such a long time or has the world been robbed of a bright mind that would have given us such immeasurable greatness? When Overshadowed produced this play last year, we talked about living in cramped spaces with people who would grow to get on our nerves. We talked about eating the same things over and over and the idea of not being about to go outside and how that would feel. We talked about the fear of the unknown and dependance on others…..who knew that we would be experiencing a little of the same things? It makes me so thankful for what we DO have. Freedom at the top of the list.

Favorite quote:

As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?–Anne Frank

This book is available at Amazon! There are also other books that you might be interested in. Some of them are also in the photo above.

In February I read –The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor. https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Came-Home-Titanic/dp/0062316869

I loved this book! I am a fan of all things Titanic and this story about fourteen members of a small village in Ireland who journey towards America is captivating. We instantly love, Maggie, who is torn as she heads to a future that must be better, but ache for her as she leaves her true love behind. The story blends the past with the present as we meet Grace Butler who struggles to find focus on the future until her great-grandmother decides it is time to tell the story of….The Titanic.

This story is inspired by true events and the blending of history, fact and fiction reminded me of so many tragic decisions involved in the sinking of that great ship that changed the world forever.

Favorite Quote:

That night when Titanic went down was so terrible that some survivors, like me, wanted to stop talking about it. I suppose people move on, history moves on, and there will, sadly, always be something more terrible waiting around the corner.--Maggie

Why is that my favorite? Because it reminds us to talk, because stories teach. And it reminds us that life has wonderful times and terrible ones. We need to find the good in all of them.

In March I read News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt https://www.amazon.com/News-Our-Loved-Ones-Novel/dp/0062834746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

This one was a struggle to read. In fact, I had to make myself read a chapter a day to get finished with it. I found the disjointed way that she introduced her characters hard to follow. I continually went back and reread portions to see if I had missed something. It finally all came together in the end, but that’s too long to wait for the story to make sense. It also touched upon being very inappropriate at times. She didn’t go into detail, but it just made me feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to feel that way when I read!

By the way, I do NOT receive anything for the recommendation of these books. This is just me…sharing things with you!

I’m not sure why I chose these three books for the beginning of this year. They all involved very deep topics and all three brought me to tears at times. My title for this blog was One Book Can Change the World. I truely believe it can. I think The Diary of a Young Girl did that. What books have your read that changed you or the world? Or…should you write one?

During this time of darkness….why not pick up a book and read!

Please take a moment to like and share this! And please let me know about books you have read!

Until next time,

family, memorial day, theater, WWII

Memorial Day–Remembering the Cost of Freedom

 On Monday we began the week by celebrating Memorial Day. I began wondering what the history of this special day was. I was surprised to learn that it was originally called “Decoration Day.” I guess it dates back to 1866 when the women of the North and South began to honor those killed in the Civil War by placing flowers on their graves. After WWI those ceremonies began to honor those who were killed in all the wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday and we began to officially observe it on the last Monday in May. This day is different from July 4th where we celebrate freedom. This day we observe the cost of freedom.

At the first Memorial Day ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery, small flags were placed at every marker, starting a tradition that is carried on to this day.

Have you ever been to Arlington? I have. My father, a hero in my eyes, is buried there.

Richard E. Ruffin was born on August 24, 1927, during WWII he was in the Navy and as

18765747_10155248332564831_6786388097962464756_n
My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery.

the story goes as soon as my 6 foot four inch tall dad got off the Navel ship he walked across the street and joined the Army. During the next years he was in Korea, two deployments in Germany and one tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze star, the Purple Heart and several commendations. How I wish I had somehow asked the right questions to learn more about that time of his life.

My dad loved America. He taught me to value the freedoms that we have. I might not like everything America does or the decisions that some of our leaders make, but I know that we have freedoms that other people do not enjoy. Why? Only one reason. Because, people like my dad fought for those freedoms, died for them, protected them.

Since this is supposed to be a blog about things on and off the stage…I’d like to remember that we have the freedom of speech.

“Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.”

Freedom of speech allows me to write this blog freely–to express my opinions about God, if I so desire–and to not fear government censorship. This is just one of the reasons I’m thankful for America.

This week let’s join together and remember the cost of our freedoms and the people who gave their all for us.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”– George S. Patton

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”    – John F. Kennedy

I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Do you know someone that served our country? Do you have a favorite story about them? Do you have a thought about freedom or Memorial Day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time!

Reba