Lost & Found — Rejoice with Me

lost and found

Yesterday, after attending church at Fellowship North in Knoxville with Debby, Lauren, Lily, and Baby Bear (due in January), I gave Lily a ride out to the car on what we call “the Bible chair”. After lunch at Cracker Barrel and back home unloading the car – No Bible! No where to be found after turning the car upside down. Then …… I remembered …. putting the Bible on top of the car while buckling Lily in. Big mistake! A heart sinking feeling of fear and despair – to the point of numbness.  What would I do without my Bible? Would I ever see it again? How would I begin to find it?

Many times, I’ve said that there’s only one material possession in this world that I really treasure – my Bible. The one I’ve been using for over 25 years. The Bible that is chock-full of notes, underlines, starred verses, “G’s” for gems, and “A’s” for actions. The one with dates written in the margins for special moments of worship. The Bible whose front and back covers are filled with the great questions of the Bible, commitments I have made, key scriptures about marriage, parenting, children, sons, friends, work, and getting old, and favorite scriptures of blessings, prayers and songs. The Bible with special markings for the passages where I say, “that will preach”. You get it, this Bible is a Priceless Treasure. It is not “A” Bible, it is “MY” Bible. Much of my life is recorded and noted here. I am who I am in large part because of the shaping I have received from moments spent with this Bible.

Inside the condo and checking my text messages, I found this – “Hi! I found your Bible on the side of the road”. Relief, joy, praise, thanksgiving swept over me. My Good Samaritan, a young lady on her way home from another church rescued my Bible. It turns out that my Bible was found more than a mile from Fellowship North. Arrangements were made to meet up and retrieve my Bible. Debby and I put together a gift, a reward and a couple of notes as a small expression of our appreciation to this kind young woman. We wondered how this series of events – the loss, the rescue, the find, the return, the relationship might play out in God’s kingdom.

So, with my treasured Bible back where it belongs – I’m touched and moved. I’m overwhelmed with the sudden feeling of loss, the joy of the return, the thoughtfulness and kindness of a young Christian lady and the amazing journey My Bible took on this October Sunday. I’m still pondering the lessons (other than don’t put things on top of the car) and the blessings.   As the woman in Luke 15 said when she found her lost coin – “Rejoice with me!”

Russell Justice, October 2019                             My Bible

P.S. My journal was found in the church parking lot and returned this morning

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Back to School Prayer Day

1) Jericho March around Bradford Prep this morning. 7 laps, 2+ miles, 5 Back to School Prayers: Peace, Protection, Purity, Passion and Perspective. No one else on the school grounds made for a peaceful march. Cool 60 degrees and misting.

2) Back to School Prayer on Justice Rock with the NC family. A tradition like no other. Each family member prayed. Prayers for Studies, Friends, Teachers, Fun, Peace, Favor, Health & Protection.

If you would like a copy of the prayers, let me know.

DSC_0098

 

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ONLY THROUGH THE EYES OF A 5-YEAR OLD

Disney World is an amazing place of fun and enjoyment. Excellence is seen in the details of the architecture, costumes, characters, rides, food service, transportation, landscaping, etc. But it only becomes all that it can be when experienced with a 5-year old child. Then it becomes really magical, incredible and filled with joy.   It was my privilege last week to spend 4 days at Disney World with Grandgirl Lily as she celebrated her 5th birthday. (The group included wife Debby who was also celebrating her birthday – I’m not telling which one – and Lily’s Mom and Dad.) Each day we would ask – “what was the most fun thing today?”  And every day the answer was – “Watching the joy on Lily’s face and hearing her laughter”. Below are some Sights & Sounds from the week and my top photos of Lily’s joy.

  • Conversations with Disney Characters – especially Tinker Bell.  
  • Meals with the characters – Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, Donald’s Disney Safari Lunch, Minnie’s Hollywood & Vine Dinner
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Sitting on Dad Kyle’s shoulders to watch the fireworks over the castle
  • Tinker Bell’s flight from the top of the castle.
  • Asleep on her dad as we rode back to the Pop Century Resort on our bus after the fireworks.
  • Toy Story Mania shooting ride.
  • Frozen Sign Along and catching the snow on her tongue.
  • Beauty and the Beast Stage Show
  • The songs and scenes of Small World.
  • (Plus Roller Coasters for me — Space Mountain, Expedition Everest (twice), Sever Dwarfs Mine Train, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Flight of Passage)

Russell Justice, Summer 2019

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NASA Co-op in 1969

My first major at Auburn University was Aerospace Engineering. I was fortunate in my Sophomore year (1967) to be accepted as a co-op student (alternating quarters of work and school) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I first reported for work on March 20, 1967. When I arrived for my first quarterly assignment all the new co-ops (maybe 100 or so) were told to go the auditorium where we would be giving orientation and find out about out assignments. When my named was called and my assignment, the group applauded. I had no idea why. I soon found out it was because I had been assigned to the Advanced Systems Group – the group headed by Dr. Von Braun and his team. My office was in the 4200 Building (MSFC HQ).

During my 5 quarters of work at MSFC I was fortunate to work on some interesting futuristic projects – most of which would not take place for years to come – like the Lunar Rover, the LBJ (Lunar Backpack Jumper) and several planetary flybys. It should be noted that many of our “advanced system” project proposals were never funded by Congress, but the ones that were made later headlines. When the astronauts returned from missions during those years (1967-1969) we would gather in the auditorium to hear their “reports”, get autographs, etc.

A major highlight of my time at NASA was a trip to Cape Kennedy to observe the launch of Apollo 10. I will never forget experiencing the power of that Saturn V rocket as it blasted off. Everything shook and the sound was overpowering – not a continuous roar, but, popping and cracking like I had never imagined.

Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Landing on the Moon, these memories flood back to me. As I reflect, I realize this is just one more of those amazing times in my life when God put me in places and situations beyond anything I could ever have dreamed. (Turtle on a Fence Post) NASA – thanks for the memories, thanks for the on-the-job training; thanks for the pay that helped cover my college expenses (especially those overtime shifts where we were running the flyby simulations on our ultra modern IBM 360 computer). Thanks for putting a man on the moon and bringing him back safely to advance the technology and superiority of our nation.

Russell Justice, July 20th, 2019 (50th Anniversary of Man on the Moon)

P.S. Debby and I watched the landing from my apartment on East Glenn Avenue in Auburn. Her first quarter there as a Freshman.

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CHILDERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL GRAND REUNION 2019

Enjoyed the Childersburg High School Grand reunion last night with Debby as her class was host and was celebrating their 50th reunion (1969). Some sights and sounds:

  • Lots of fun having a chance to chat with friends from good days of the past.
  • Good food, great bread pudding, great music by The No Name Band composed of several friends from my high school class and lead singer, my best friend in high school and college roommate, Rod Lee Bowling. We talked about the first couple of gigs they performed back in 1966. I will always remember their 2nd gig at the Coosa Pines golf course as Debby and I enjoyed the evening as were falling in love. They only come together now for special events like this.
  • The highlight of the evening was dancing with Debby to “our song”, My Girl.  Just like we first did in 1966.
  • As the evening went on, I realized and Debby and I talked about, how many of my conversations and relationships revolved around playing sports in high school.  Those sports times were days where you say, “It doesn’t get any better than this”.
  • One friend Carroll was able to name the players in every position from one of our favorite teams.   Carroll was catcher and told me that when it was 2 outs and they hit the ball toward centerfield where I played – he just headed for the dugout even before I caught the ball – he was that sure of the catch. I must say, I loved playing center field and having coaches and other teams try to hit a ball in my direction that I couldn’t get to.
  • Missed many of you Class of ’66 folks.

Russell Justice, June 2019

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My Woodworking Dad

As many of you know, my dad was a carpenter. THE carpenter for Bon Air Yarn Mills. He was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all the houses in the village plus some – approximately 50 houses. “Carpentry” included all the plumbing and electrical as well. He was also responsible for carpentry in the mill which included some welding and machine tooling. There were other duties like taking care of the spring pump that fed water to the town and serving as a night watchman during holidays.

Some of the favorite toys that dad made for me included: a slingshot and an amazing scooter. He made the platform and handle for the scooter and attached skate wheels to the bottom. My scooter was the envy of the neighborhood. He made waterwheels for me to play with in the streams in the village and at Pa’s Texaco store.

He and some friends once rented one of the garages in the village and built boats there on winter evenings. I loved hanging out with the men in that garage as they cut, sanded and screwed those hundreds of pieces of wood together to make their very own, custom build fishing boats. I was mostly in charge of supplying the screws, watching and picking up supper from our house across the street. I was also “in charge” of listening to these mill village men “solve” many of the world’s problems right there in that garage.

My Dad built his own house – designed it (including a special fireplace for my Mom), laid the block foundation, did all the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, roofing and brick laying. I was able to come home from Auburn some weekends to help with laying the bricks. The plan also included a big and the best garden ever, fruit trees, a hot house to start his plants our early, and St. Augustine grass. Moving from the mill village house (the mayor’s house, next to the village store) to this “brick house” with paneling and a carport was a lifetime achievement. By the way – he only built this house after he has saved up enough money to paid for all of it. He never had a loan of any kind in his life.

When they were building the new Bon Air Baptist Church (where he was the “contractor” and chief builder), they needed a new podium for the pulpit. Dad and I went to the lumber company in Sylacauga to pick out the wood for the new podium. (I’m surprised he didn’t just use something he already had, as was his custom for almost everything.) We picked out several pieces of detailed molding for the trim. In no time at all dad (with a little of my help) built the podium. He took special care to trim it ornately. This is a special time of memory for me – with my dad. (I would love to have that podium if they ever stop using it – but what would I do with it? I just need to go by sometime and take a photo of it.)

The biggest woodworking project I ever took on with my dad – by far – was to build the furniture for our first house in Kingsport. Debby and I were moving from Cabana Apartments to a rental house on Dogwood Drive in Colonial Heights. We had almost no furniture for the house, so I took a few days of vacation time and we went to Alabama to get dad to help me make furniture for the house. We had some furniture plans that we had found and ordered. In those few days in Alabama, we bought the wood and made a table and chairs, two love seats, end tables, coffee tables, and a picnic table. Mom made the cushions for the love seats. We cut the top for the coffee table from a plate glass window. We picked up the bed and side tables from Debby’s mom. We rented a U-Haul and headed back to Kingsport to a house full of new, mostly homemade furnishings. Most of these pieces of furniture are still in the family.

I was, and am, always proud of my dad and the way he used his God-given skills of carpentry (both hands and head) to make things and fix things. Whether it was working at a house in the mill village, in the cotton mill, at church, at the Bon Air school, or on a friend’s house – he always did his work with skill, excellence and unto the Lord. I was then, and still now, amazed at how he could take out his square and calculate the angles that needed to be cut and how much lumber would be needed for a project.

I appreciated the way he often let me tag along when he was working on a project for a friend – building a new room, adding on a porch or remodeling. These “after hour” projects added income for our family that let us enjoy some extras. To this day I love the smell of fresh cut lumber and enjoy taking a hammer to nails. He taught me to measure twice, cut once. Although, he was bad to “freehand” lots of his cuts – eyeballing it and cutting. But, he was rarely wrong with his eyeballing and free-handing.

My Woodworking Dad, Calvin Justice – rough hands from hard work, a reputation for skill and smarts, and character traits of compassion and integrity.   I never wondered for one moment if he loved me. What an honor, a privilege and a joy to have shared life with him. Thank you Lord for such a blessing.

Russell Justice, Father’s Day 2019

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SAVE OUR CHILDREN RALLY

 

I know of no more fitting way to spend the Saturday morning of Father’s Day weekend that by attending the Save Our Children Rally in the Cherry Street Neighborhood of Charlotte. The purpose of the rally was to encourage the people of Charlotte to reject the expansion of Planned Parenthood into a state, city and neighborhood where they are not welcome. The rally was sponsored by The Douglass Leadership Institute, COGIC Family Life Campaign, Black and Brown Coalition and National Black Pro-Life Coalition. The rally was challenging and inspiring for me as the war for our unborn children and the soul of our nation rages on. Here are some of my sights, sounds, gems and notes (in italics).

  • We sang in songs of praise and worship. We prayed in mass and in small groups of 3. We heard messages from about 10 pastors. We walked in quiet prayer in front of the new Planned Parenthood building. — A beautiful sight. Men, women, youth, children, White, Black, Latino, young, old. United in purpose. Unhindered by differences. (Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1)
  • When scriptures were quoted, after a few words, many in the crowd quoted in unison.

 

  • The fight has come to me, to you, to us, to this neighborhood. We didn’t ask for it, but it is here.
  • In 1 Samuel 17:29 David says “Is there not a cause?”   When the Philistines and Goliath rose up against God and his people, David answered the challenge, the call. Let me ask you, here, today – “Is there not a cause?” The Philistines are here. They want our children, grandchildren, marriages, faith. You can’t run away from them. They are relentless. You have to fight. You can’t do it alone. The Church of the Almighty God must rise up in unity against this horror in our land.
  • I (we) will not stand silent on my watch.
  • Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.
  • Blow the trumpet and sound the alarm.
  • We stand today to rebuke evil and lies. Against hidden motives. Against murder for profit. To stand for life abundant and everlasting.
  • We claim today for our Lord every place that our feet will touch – for eternal impact.
  • It’s not about Queen Charlotte. It is about King Jesus
  • The 2nd greatest failure of mankind is to have learned how to remove life (a baby) from the womb.
  • The greatest failure of mankind is to stand by and allow it – millions of times. (Francis Shaeffer said, “Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front of it saying, “Open by the permission of the church.”)
  • American has lost 1.5 million troops in war and 65 million babies to abortion.
  • Black lives won’t matter until black lives matter in the womb.
  • Recently pro-abortion advocate Merle Hoffman said, “Abortion is as American as apple pie.”
  • Men, don’t be the mouse of the house.

It was a joy to worship, sing, pray, walk and visit with a number of pro-life friends from throughout the city. It was also an honor to meet Pastor Mark Harris and to meet and talk with Joseph McNeil one of the Greensboro Four – pioneers in civil rights movement in the 1960’s and Major General in the U.S. Air Force, serving 37 years.

Russell Justice, June 2019

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