Category Archives: Inspirational

Uncle Phil was a Hero

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Phil Fielder was a handsome seventeen-year old Iowan whose remaining boyhood years were set aside by World War II. Four older brothers enlisted soon after Pearl Harbor. He followed their lead by signing up on July 10, 1942. After boot camp, he attended airplane mechanic’s school and specialist’s training for P-38 fighter planes.

But like many other young men, Phil hated sitting on the sidelines, thousands of miles away from action so he volunteered for gunnery school. The heavy casualties in the air war over Germany caused his transfer orders to quickly pass through proper channels for his relocation to Pueblo, Colorado. The Army assigned him to a B-24 bomber crew as a flight engineer and a machine gunner after graduation.

In the midst of the Army’s hurry-up-and-wait schedule, Phil married Helen Kimler on October 24, 1943. Their honeymoon was brief, but fortunately, she was able to travel with him to Colorado. The months quickly passed until Phil was assigned to a bomber crew. Helen left for Iowa, pregnant with their soon arriving child, while Phil flew off to war.

During World War II, more than 18,300 B-24 bombers were manufactured in America. It was a clumsy looking four-engine airplane with twin tails and a nose wheel. The cruising speed was 200 miles per hour with a maximum rating of 300 miles per hour. Aptly named the Liberator, it was armed with ten .50 caliber machine guns and could carry a payload of 8,800 pounds of bombs. 

Though fondly remembered by their ten-man crews, the B-24’s were anything but passenger friendly. Noisy, bumpy, cumbersome, awkward, cramped, and uncomfortable with no heat, no restrooms, no pressurized cabins, no padding on the iron seats, and no kitchen facilities. Temperatures were as low as fifty degrees below zero at times with winds gusting through the cabins from the open bomb bay doors and machine gun turrets. Each man used an oxygen mask at altitudes above 10,000 feet and wore two parachutes: front and back. 

Phil’s ten-man crew was a part of the 15th Army Air Force and the 485th Bomber Group. Their ages ranged from nineteen to twenty-three years old. Captain Tom McDowell was a respected veteran at the ripe old age of twenty. Uncle Phil was the second youngest and the only married man on the crew.

Landing in Venosa, Italy, the B-24 crew flew their first mission on September 6, 1944. Thus, began their countdown towards a minimum of thirty-five bombing runs over enemy territory before being reassigned to less hazardous duties.

Thirty-five missions over Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Austria. Thirty-five flights bombing oil refineries, railroad yards, ammunition plants, ball bearing factories, and whatever else. Thirty-five trips through anti-aircraft fire filled with deadly flak so heavy it appeared to be black clouds. Thirty-five times taking off knowing one in three planes might not return that day. Thirty-five tests of courage far beyond what normal men could ever hope to bear. It was no wonder these crews became life-long friends after enduring such perils together.

On one particular mission, Phil’s B-24 came under heavy anti-aircraft fire just after dropping their bombs. A piece of flak tore a hole in the hydraulic reservoir tank, spraying oil all over the cabin. If left unrepaired, the bomb bay doors would remain open and the plane’s wheels could not be lowered into landing position when they returned to the base. Valuable seconds ticked off. Something had to be done or the plane would have to be ditched, forcing them to use their parachutes. A dangerous last resort for B-24 crews.

“See if you can do something! And be quick about it!” shouted Captain Tom to Uncle Phil.

Phil saw a small broom under the pilot’s seat. He grabbed it, broke the handle off, and made his way toward the hydraulic tank.

The trek to the rear was dangerous under normal conditions because there was no aisle. Just an eight-inch wide catwalk spanned the thin aluminum doors, but on that day, the bomb bay doors were wide open with high winds ripping through them. The plane flew at an altitude of twenty-eight thousand feet, with temperatures at forty degrees below zero. Slippery hydraulic oil covered everything, including the narrow catwalk.

Phil unhooked his front parachute pack and edged sideways over the long oily catwalk, much like a high wire walker in a circus. He crossed the open bomb bay doors to the leaking tank. Arriving there, he cut off a finger on his leather glove, shoved the broom handle into the lopped off piece, and rammed the jury-rigged wad into the tank’s gaping hole. It worked. The leak stopped.

Was there a band playing for our hero when he arrived back at the base? No. Did any reporters rush to write about his heroic act of courage? No. Were any medals of honor pinned on his chest? No. Did he really expect to receive any of this? No. Phil instead received the grateful thanks from the ones he considered the most important people in the war zone: his crewmembers.

Phil and his crew completed their quota of thirty-five bombing missions in April 1945 and then were reassigned back to the states. There he reunited with Helen and finally met his seven-month old son, Philip, Jr.

Uncle Phil summed up his actions on that day with the hydraulic reservoir by saying, “Somebody had to do it. It just turned out to be me.”

(Excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014, Amazon eBook)

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“Giving to the Poor: What’s In It For Me” is FREE on Amazon Today

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My book, Giving to the Poor: What’s In It For Me, is FREE on Amazon today through Sunday.

Amazon book description:

Why should we give to the poor? And if we do, what’s in it for us?

Our heavenly Father is not a big bully who tells us to give to the poor, “Just because I said so.” That’s not in line with His loving character. If He asks us to do something, we will be blessed for our obedience.

The book, “Giving to the Poor: What’s In It For Me,” lays out three scriptural reasons for giving to the poor: Judgment Seat of Christ, treasures, and present truth. All three are motives to change our life styles into being generous donors to the poor.

Who knows? Our living or dying could depend on whether or not we have given generously to the poor. And guess what? New Testament scripture backs this up.

This may be the most important small book of the year.

Buy it. Read it. Live it.

Available on Amazon for Kindles and Kindle apps.

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“The Day LA Died” is FREE Today on Amazon!

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My book, The Day LA Died, is FREE on Amazon today through Sunday.

Amazon book description:

“LA died today. Our nation’s worst fears since the destruction of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, have become a reality. At 3:33 p.m., Pacific Coast Time, a large nuclear bomb was detonated over Los Angles.” (Blake Parker, WNN TV News Anchor) 

Thirty-three years earlier, Luke Stoner made a vow, but does he still have to honor his promise now that the nuclear bomb has exploded in nearby LA? And what about his wife, Cat, and their teenage son, are they forced to buy into the same deal? Thousands of lives hang on Luke’s decisions and his vow.

Others ambushed by the tragic news coming out of LA include a newly elected President, a bitter ex-Navy SEAL, and a popular TV news anchor. All know the clock is ticking down for tens of thousands of people.

“Oh God, where are You? Can’t You help us? (Boomer Smith, ex-Navy SEAL) 

Any hopes for miracles? Not much. Even God may be too late for Southern California.

Powerful. Frightening. And yet, inspiring.

The Day LA Died is a fast paced novel sure to keep readers’ fingers turning pages until its surprise ending. This is the first in the Luke and Cat series of novels.

Available on Amazon for Kindles and Kindle apps.

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“The Hunt for Larry Who” is FREE Today on Amazon!

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My book, The Hunt for Larry Who, is FREE on Amazon today through Sunday.

Amazon book description:

Although the author’s surname is Nevenhoven, few can pronounce it. So what do they do? They wrinkle their noses and say, “Larry who?”

The actual hunt for Larry Who began on a farm in the 1950’s surrounded by loving parents and country churches. It continued down a winding path through the 1960’s and the University of Illinois, ending up with Larry being an agnostic. Then, it was off to Detroit, Louisville, and Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Jesus blasted Larry’s agnosticism to pieces on the day of his planned suicide.

From his salvation day onward, life should have been one triumph after another, but that was not the case. He trudged through deep valleys of loneliness, poverty, rejection, firings from jobs, climbing into dumpsters, homelessness, divorce, and failures.

But it was during Larry’s worst disappointments and deepest valleys when the Lord revealed Himself as a loving Father with unlimited grace to soothe the pain of His child.

“The Hunt for Larry Who” is a series of snapshot experiences about a farm boy from small-town America who desired to be wealthy, as in stinking rich, but ended up falling in love with Jesus. Paul the Apostle described Larry to a tee:

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 New Living Translation)

If you are looking to read another vanilla flavored story about a Christian that does everything right, “The Hunt for Larry Who” is not that book. It is a down in the trenches account of an ordinary man who struggles to serve an extraordinary God.

 Available on Amazon for Kindles and Kindle apps.

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A Shadow’s Viewpoint of His Dad

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“Roy, where’s your shadow?” the tractor salesman asked Dad.

And with that statement, I received a nickname that stayed with me for quite a few years. I was Dad’s shadow, his tag along little boy, who traveled with him when he went to town or a neighbor’s place or Uncle Bob’s farm or the Haldane Elevator or wherever.

Of course, being Dad’s shadow had its unique benefits because he was a softie and I could always squeeze a dime or fifteen cents out of his pockets. This was more than enough to buy an ice-cold Nehi Cream Soda and a Baby Ruth candy bar at Donaldson’s Grocery Store in Haldane or a Pepsi and a handful of peanuts at Gentry’s Farm Implement in Polo.

As his shadow, I watched Dad climb Gene Bolen’s and Matt DeWall’s silos up to the top so that a new crop of silage could be stored in them. He was the fearless neighborhood Spiderman and unafraid of heights. I also saw him help Lawrence Zumdahl, Walter Paul, and Doc Link with their projects. Dad always had time to help neighbors and also drink their coffee. “Black please, no sugar or cream,” he always answered on how he liked his coffee.

And of course, there was Uncle Bob Duncan. Dad farmed with Uncle Bob for thirty plus years and never once did this shadow ever hear Dad speak an angry word at Uncle Bob or vice versa. Both treated each other with the highest mutual respect.

When I was six years old, Dad put his shadow (me) to work for the first time, driving a tractor which pulled the hay fork into the barn. It was an easy job. All I had to do was pay attention to him and push in the clutch when he waved his arms at me. But as youngsters sometimes do, I anticipated his commands and stopped early a few too many times. At last, Dad said to me, “From now on, watch me. If you don’t see me waving my hands, keep on going…even if you end up in the orchard. Do you understand?”

His voice alerted me to the importance of his commands.

All went well for a few hours.

Then, Mom showed up and talked with him while we were working. The load of hay moved up into the barn and I continued driving the tractor, waiting for the waving of his hands. But he continued talking with Mom. I drove past every one of my earlier stopping points and headed for the orchard. Finally, I saw him frantically waving his hands. I stopped.

He ran toward me. His face was red and he held his hat in his hand. “Sonny, I am so mad…but it’s not your fault…it’s mine. But I am so mad! You pulled the backdoor out of the barn with the hayforks. I’m so mad! But it’s not your fault. Honest, Sonny, it’s not your fault, but I am so mad!”

I can still see him standing there next to the tractor tire, shifting his weight from one foot to the other in his agitation, so angry and yet so careful not to hurt my feelings. He eventually helped me off the tractor and gave me a hug. All was well between Dad and his shadow even though his barn door was busted to pieces.

And this is how Dad treated me his whole life. It is called love.

A few days before Dad’s death, a nurse asked me, “What was your dad like?”

“He was a good guy who wore a white hat and sat on a tall white charger. He always arrived at the scene just in the nick of time with a few dollars in his pocket, a hammer and a pair of pliers in his hands and words of encouragement in his mouth for his loved ones and neighbors. He was my hero,” I said.

And I believed every word of it.

(Excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014, Amazon eBook)

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“Lord, I’m So Lonely”

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In the autumn of 1994, I stood on the bottom rung of my Christian life. Too many mistakes and too much pride had dropped me to that level. My inner faith reservoir offered little help as I tried to pray that morning.

“Lord, I am so lonely,” I muttered through my tears.

Then, I immediately heard these words: “Larry, it was lonely at the cross.”

I would like to to say that I nodded my head and said, “Yes, Lord,” but that would be a lie. Instead, His words angered me.

“That’s not fair, Lord. You’re God and I’m this lousy piece of flesh…”

My words trailed off because even in my low mental state, I understood the ridiculousness of my position. How could I possibly be angry at the one Person who understood my pain because He took all of my hurts, all of my sins, all of my bad days, and all of my emotions on His shoulders at the cross?

It wasn’t long before I laughed aloud at my foolishness.

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14 NLT)

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How Big is our God?

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The following is a true story about a MyGFA campaign and a dad who involved his children in the campaign decision:

Dad: “For Christmas this year what do you think about our family helping raise support for a Jesus Well?”

Kids: “YEAH!!! That sounds great!”

Dad: “How many wells should we raise support for?” (Dad quietly thinking possibly five wells, because anything is possible with God!)

Kids: “How much does a Jesus Well cost?”

Dad: “One thousand four hundred dollars.”

Kids: “Ok. Let’s raise support for one thousand four hundred Jesus Wells.”

Dad: Humbled. “Do you know how much money that would take? We would need to involve everyone we know and then they would have to involve everyone they know and on and on and on…”

Kids: “Daddy, How big is our God?”

Dad: “One thousand four hundred Jesus Wells sounds like the perfect God inspired number. Now let’s get ready to watch God move!”

This is your invitation to become a part of the story to personally see how God can use anyone with a willing heart to accomplish His will. (You can read the rest of the campaign article here.)

To date, the family has raised $2867, which means they still need $1,957,133 to meet their campaign goal. Why not help them out? You can do that by clicking here.

After all, how big is our God?

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