Critic vs. Valiant Credit

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt

Thank you, R. Todd over at Thoughts from the Front for the timely reminder.
    Be valiant. Anyone can be a critic…Dare to be different.


Marsh Flowers ©Gracie K Harold 2015


Soldier C.


Soldier C. by Gracie K. Harold.

The following was written a few years ago in honor of my valiant friend C.:

I remember a tall, wry kid with an hilarious sense of humor and a knack for side-splitting sarcastic comments.  C’s athletic agility was legendary through all of our years; but it originated in elementary school.  Growing up in the mid-to-late eighties; Dodge-ball was the all-inclusive sport of choice most recesses.

When C walked onto the court; his teammates cheered and his opponents clamored for cover.  His legendary status was achieved the first time that he went head-to-head against one of the sixth grade teachers.  This particular teacher towered well over 6 feet tall, and bore a striking resemblance to the late President Abraham Lincoln.  I remember all of us lining up in amazement around the dodge-ball court, barely breathing in anticipation.  I don’t even remember who won.  It didn’t matter.  What mattered was that C stood up to the challenge.  He refused to back down.  Fear was not allowed to control him; instead, he was energized by the opportunity to accomplish the unthinkable.  After C’s act of playground bravery, the next match consisted of 20 of us kids against the teacher.  C taught me that day to believe in the impact of one person’s courage.

Another lesson that I learned from C was how to enjoy the moment.  He started teaching me this in 5th grade when we had a strict, prim substitute.  She had just finished one of her many lectures, and turned to write on the board.  At the optimal moment, as her back was completely turned to us; C masterfully sneezed out “Bull-$#!*” so loudly that the woman nearly jumped out of her shoes!  The memory still makes me laugh out loud!

In Middle School, we were assigned seats by each other in virtually every class.  I distinctly remember the day that C leaned closer to me and said, “Grace; why do you take life so seriously? You are so funny.  Why don’t you relax more often?  It’s okay to have fun.”  In the days and months that followed, I discovered that he was right.  Throughout my life, and especially now [living as a single mom and tending to my children’s many health issues]; I strive to enjoy every moment, to really make the most of every second I have with my children, family and friends.

In High School, we parted ways a bit and attended rival schools.  An avid sports fan, I had many opportunities to watch C continue his athletic career.  I must confess that even in the midst of cheering for my team; when C would score, I was the lone person celebrating in my section.

As I was preparing for college, I ran into C at my church.  He was in his military uniform.  We had a brief moment of connection, and I remember how proud of him I was.  Here was my childhood friend, believing still in the lessons that he had unwittingly taught me.  C knew that one person’s courage can make a difference, and he also knew the importance of enjoying every moment that God gives us.

I was shocked this morning when I turned on the radio and heard that C was killed while serving overseas.  I was wracked with sobs as I thought back over all that he has taught me.  I told my children about “soldier C”.  One of them asked me, “Mommy, was Soldier C sacrificing his life for us?”  I began to cry as I nodded in affirmation.  One of my other children then asked, “Mommy, why are you crying? Soldier C is in Heaven with Jesus now.  Don’t you think he’s happy?”

I began to think about it; to really think about it.  I started to wonder what I can learn from his death.  I know that even now; two truths still resonate.  First, he lived and died with courage as he led others by his example.  Second, I know he lived every moment to the fullest; C could do nothing less.  I am renewed in my resolve to lead courageously as I truly live every moment that God gives me.

Knowing C as I have, I can smile through my grief; thinking about him up in Heaven right now as he picks his team for a round of dodge-ball.

The following are some great ways that you can show your thanks and appreciation to all of the soldiers who willingly lay down their lives for freedom.

1. Lemonade 4 Soldiers was started by a young man who wanted to encourage deployed soldiers overseas.flags4

2. The American Red Cross provides valuable services to soldiers, veterans and their families.

3.  Veteran Support Organization also encourages veterans.


I have many friends & family members who have served overseas and locally to preserve our freedom.  I confess, I was rather disgusted by the callousness displayed by some people at a local Memorial Day Parade this week.  Instead of standing respectfully and applauding their thanks for the brave veterans that passed by; they complained about the length of the parade and how long they had to stand.  I think it’s a bit ironic that not only did these valiant ones willingly lose sleep for us; but now they have to march in a parade to receive our thanks.

Please, thank a veteran.  Support the #soldiers.  Pray for peace.