Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Final Touch

Photo by Ken Kniskern
Timothy’s hands were trembling, but resolved as he completed the last step to his plan.  He calmly walked away from a delivery truck as its cab filled with smoke coming from the end of a burning fuse.

The downtown traffic was gradually beginning to subside after the morning rush hour.  Coffee mugs were finding their familiar places on corners of desks.  Computers hummed in unison as the users typed in passwords and hit the “Enter” keys.  Phones began to ring with morning wakeup calls for employees.  Downstairs muted giggles filtered into the hallways.

Those familiar sounds came to a horrific stop when the force equivalent to three tons of dynamite exploded and became the second shot heard around the world.

Oklahoma City would never be the same.  America would never be the same.  The lives of one hundred sixty-eight families, including those of parents who had just kissed the soft cheeks of their precious little ones, would never be the same.  The only life that seemed untouched was that of Timothy McVeigh, at least for now.

What was once a federal office building filled with FBI agents and other employees, local citizens, and a day care center was now a gaping hole in the Heartland.  Electrical cables hung like spaghetti, and roofing materials waved like shredded curtains hung from melted and twisted iron.  Shards of glass exploded and penetrated unsuspecting bystanders.

Television screens around the world carried the indescribable wreckage and carnage brought to the Bible Belt by hatred of the most demonic proportion.

Timothy may have calculated the required amount of explosive ingredients, the best time of the day to destroy the most lives, and the deadliest available parking place in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but there was one calculation he missed completely.  He could never have comprehended what would become the “Oklahoma Standard”.  

Volunteerism had its finest moments in the aftermath of the explosion.  Lines formed across the state with people who waited hours to donate blood.  Rescue workers from around the state, the nation, and the globe arrived daily for weeks.  Specially trained dogs became heroes.  Every conceivable need for the rescue and recovery teams was donated, mostly by Oklahomans.

                                                                                          * * * * *

Fifteen years later, in the shadow of The Survivor Tree, a gentle breeze barely skims the still water in the Reflecting Pool.  As the sun sets, the soft lights beneath the glass chairs begin to glow.  Each chair has been strategically placed and named to correspond with the deceased’s final place in and around the nine-story building.  They provide a tangible area where one can rest, place flowers, and even kneel in their quest for comfort and understanding.

Twin bronze gates stand majestically at each end of the memorial, one engraved with 9:01 AM, the other with 9:03 AM.  An inscription on the outside of each gate reads:

“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.  May all who leave here know the impact of violence.   May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”

The peaceful setting that replaced the remains of terrorism speaks to moving on, but never forgetting.  Visitors still leave gifts in a 200-foot remnant of chain link fence that will forever be available for special touches of kindness and remembrance.

In a place as far away as Israel, a large painted mural of a firefighter tenderly looking into the quiet face of the child he is carrying covers the side of a concrete building, an image of an incredible moment in time.

The web page that hosts the site of the Oklahoma City National Memorial now shines with smiling faces of over comers and their stories of restored and victorious lives.  They choose to face each new day in the light of a different kind of joy.

Oklahomans have shown extraordinary resilience through the rough-and-tumble days of the Land Rush, early statehood, the Dust Bowl coupled with the Great Depression, two world wars, and an oil boom that turned into a bust.  April 19, 1995 was our biggest devastation.

“The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us” is inscribed near The Survivor Tree.

Out of the rubble came strength and greatness.  A state engulfed in mourning but enmeshed in faith as she watches in anticipation for the arrival of the Prince of Peace Who will, once and for all, end the touch of terror.


Photo by Ken Kniskern

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Mother's Turn


My mother would have loved having a blog. Goldie Opal Anderson McCall taught the Bible most of her adult life. She was our go-to concordance, our expositor of scriptures that can raise more questions for which human understanding is often no match. We have a few things she wrote, but said little about. Today I'm honored to share one of them, noted with her initials and 1994, the year on April 18 my dad said his good-byes to us and "Hello" to so many loved ones in Heaven. Mother joined him on April 19, 2013.



OUR VALLEYS


Just as each life needs the mountain tops for sun,
The plains and shores for work and fun,
We also need a place along life's way
To be quiet --- to rest --- and hear God say,
"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10



His plan for our lives may include a valley along the way,
As we strive to serve Him day by day.
So do not worry --- fret or fear,
He is faithful and will always be near
To "supply all your needs."
Philippians 4:19



No valley is too deep --- too long --- or too wide
To keep Jesus from walking by our side.
His word is full of His promises --- to you and to me ---
No matter where He sends us --- there He is sure to be.
"I will never leave thee or forsake thee."
Hebrews 13:5

GM
1994



We love you, Mom. Your teaching is still golden, and what a treasure to find something you typed and tucked away with so many of your words of wisdom. Enjoy Heaven with Dad. We'll see you soon.




Monday, October 3, 2016

A President Prays for our Nation's House





"I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that hereafter inhabit it...May none but the honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."*



John President (1797-1801)



*The prayer was later carved in the State Dining Room.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Prayer for Our Nation



"Almighty GOD; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States of America at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of The Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen"


George Washington

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Psalm 51:10-12


"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit
."

Psalm 51:10-12



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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Come



“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” 
(Matthew 11:28, NISB)


  “Come...” 
“Move from where you are"

  “…to Me.”
“Jesus. I’m all you need. I can help.”

  “all”
               “Anyone. Everyone.”

“who are weary”
               “I want to be your strength.”

 “and heavy laden”
               “I carried the cross and then bore it – just for you. I can carry you, too.”

 “and I will give you rest.”
               “Rest for your mind, body and spirit.”



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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Music Lesson

          Two of the sources of joy in my life rest in our two beautiful daughters and the young women they've become. The younger of the two, Mandy Kniskern, and I often finish each other's sentences, reach for the phone to call each other at the same time - you know how it is with mothers and daughters.
          I was thinking through my post for this month, but just had not stopped to see if my thoughts would lead to anything helpful. No worries. I checked in to see what my facebook buddies were up to today, and there she was: Mandy. Not only finishing my thoughts, but doing it so eloquently it would be a shame for me to attempt a rewrite for "our" point of view. With her permission, I'm giving my corner over to her today. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.

      "I love to sing harmony. It often makes me smile to think of how Ken’s and my singing styles speak so much to our personalities. Ken has an undeniably strong, effortless, leading solo voice. I love to blend. I love singing with and against other parts. As we were singing Sunday morning, I was harmonizing on a dissonant note, pressing in, loving the dissonance, anticipating the resolution… and it started me thinking...
      We experience that same dissonance in life...
      That tension that begs for resolution.  Whatever the situation is that’s unresolved, I can press in and learn what there is to learn, grow how I can grow while I wait for resolution. And sometimes it doesn’t come in that particular song or situation. 
          Just as some songs you hear trail off without resolving like you just know they will, such is life.  Not everything gets wrapped up and tied with a nice big bow. The closure that you’re waiting for in your situation doesn’t always come. But there will be a new song, and another new song after that. Just as our lives are a series of chapters, so are they an eclectic blend of music. Some songs will build and swell and give us that big dramatic finish that ends on tonic, the way that feels right, and some songs will deliver more complex chord structures, more dissonance less resolution.
           Who can understand why God allows the discord in our lives… We live in an imperfect world with spiritual battles being fought all around us, and I believe that there are simply times when evil prevails. But God can always work good out of what the enemy intends for our harm.

           If you’re in a particularly dissonant season, press in. Maybe resolution will come, maybe it won’t. But in time, a new song will begin."


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