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Exporting Morale: A Lesson from North Platte

9 Sep

The following humorous story is reportedly true, shared by a man on his way to war:

“During the Persian Gulf War, I was assigned to go to Saudi Arabia. As I was saying good-bye to my family, my three-year-old son, Christopher, was holding on to my leg and pleading with me not to leave. ‘No, Daddy, please don’t go!’ he kept repeating.

“We were beginning to make a scene when my wife, desperate to calm him, said, ‘Let Daddy go and I’ll take you to get a pizza.’

“Immediately, Christopher loosened his death grip, stepped back and in a calm voice said, ‘Bye, Daddy.'” *

Although that story is sweet and funny, war isn’t. It never is. Yet we still can find moments of light in terrible  darkness, and reasons for hope.

My husband’s mother recently sent me a video about the North Platte Canteen in Nebraska. I’d never heard about this special place.

According to a site detailing the story, the North Platte Canteen encouraged more than six million servicemen and women who traveled through Nebraska via train during World War II. Volunteers, led by Rae Wilson, prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade goodies during quick troop stops there.

A similar canteen operated during World War I ~ an operation associated with the American Red Cross for 18 months in the Union Pacific freight house in North Platte ~ serving about 113,190 men. Many of these “Sammy Girls” served in the 1940s canteen as well.

Many other smaller canteens operated in Omaha, Norfolk, and McCook (where troop trains also paused), but the North Platte Canteen was a dramatic, patriotic outpouring of regular American citizens to give encouragement and sustenance to US troops on their way to war.

(Rae Wilson, left, organizer of the North Butte Canteen. Photo, Lincoln County Historical Museum)

Rae Wilson (age 26), wrote a letter to the North Platte Bulletin, sparking interest for her idea to give small gifts and snacks to soldiers traveling through North Platte on Christmas Day, 1941. Wilson organized a canteen committee a few days before the soldiers arrived.

In time, the volunteers provided simple entertainment (a donated piano, jukebox, and radio), a magazine table, birthday celebrations for soldiers who passed through on their birthday, platform girls (on the train station platform with baskets of food) and words of encouragement to the troops. Years later, soldiers who survived the war wrote back expressing thanks to the volunteers. Memories of their stop in North Butte encouraged them during battle, and lingered long after the war.

(Rae Wilson gives men a happy send-off. Photo from Lincoln County Historical Museum.)

What struck me in reading this story was some words by Rae Wilson said. “North Platte hasn’t any big war industries,” she said. “I guess you could say we’ve started our own ~ exporting morale.

I like that. Exporting morale. Boy, could we use more of that in the Body of Christ as we fight the battle against the unseen enemy and for our Lord. The Bible says we are to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13) and to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

How can I export morale? How can I encourage those new Christian “recruits” ~ born again and  just beginning to fight? How can I bless and motivate battle-weary saints?

These are questions we all might ask.

Rae Wilson’s vision motivated people to help her bless millions. I keep thinking, “Lord, I’ll be content to sit at my desk and encourage others through writing; but is there something more you would have me do?” I think it’s a question we all need to ask.

Let me hear from you. How can we “export morale” in the church today?

* From,

For more about the North Platte Canteen, click on the “A Pictoral History” at

– Dawn

Motivation Preparation

25 Mar

I love those beautiful motivation posters that I’ve seen in executives’ offices, but I recently ran across some “Failed Motivation Posters” that made me LOL:

  • Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
  • A person who smiles in the face of adversity probably has a scapegoat.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.
  • Teamwork means never having to take all the blame yourself.
  • Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.
  • Aim low… Reach your goals… Avoid disappointment.
  • Doing the job right the first time gets the job done; doing the job wrong 14 times gives you job security!

I saw one motivational poster that said, “If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing (it) soon.”

I laughed at another motivational poster about exercise. The picture in the poster was of a 24 Hour Fitness … but on both sides of the steep staircase to the front door were escalators! Right… that’s motivation.

True motivation is powerful, but it always amazes me what motivates people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately, because good leaders need to motivate, and I am learning what that means. I know what motivates my dog Roscoe ~ food! If I want him to do ANYthing, I simply dangle a bit of food in front of his nose.

But motivating people is more complex. What might motivate one person might not motivate another. For some, it is achievement. For others, it is acquisition. Some are motivated by praise. Others relish a challenge. I’m motivated when I feel I’m making a difference.

As I’ve looked through the Word of God, there are verses about lack of motivation, but also some helpful scriptures that motivate us to do more and be more for the Kingdom of God.

For instance, Proverbs 14:23 tells us there is profit in working, but merely talking about work leads to poverty. We need to get motivated and get busy!

There’s the motivation that comes from the flesh, and motivation that comes from living according to eternal standards. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (ESV) says, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath [crown, reward], but we, an imperishable.”

One of the powerful motivators of scripture is in Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV): “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” In Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV), there is motivation for courage: “Be strong and courageous… the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And another, in the New Testament, encourages a God-honoring lifestyle: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV). We are motivated to live for God, rather than the praise of people (Colossians 3:23).

We are motivated by the sufficiency of our God to strengthen us (Philippians 4:13; Isaiah 40:31), and meet our needs (Luke 12:29-30). We are motivated to know that God will direct us (Psalm 37:23-24) and give us meaningful work to do (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). We are motivated because, in Christ, we are overcomers! (John 16:33).

So how do we prepare to be motivated? (It doesn’t just happen.)

Our greatest Motivation Preparation is to know the Word of God, and especially these powerful scriptures that give us direction and strength.

The Bible says, “… the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32b, NKJV). Our motivation and ability to do great things is directly tied to our knowing God in an intimate way, and we know Him in prayer and by meditating on His Word.

Does the Word of God motivate you? What are your most motivating scriptures?

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