Friday, January 1, 2016

Cliff's Memorandum

My family went through some of Grandpa's things this year. My brother framed this Memorandum for me for Christmas, and it’s one of my favorite gifts of any kind ever. It’s Grandpa’s declaration to live for the Lord, signed in 1940, when he had just turned 23. I was that age when I moved to New York City, so this is special on many levels. Here’s the text:
Resolved: 1-29-40
1. To give God first place in my life. 2. To put from my life every doubtful act, thought and thing. 3. To participate more whole-heartedly and to a greater degree in Sunday school, church and other religious work. 4. To continue tithing my gross income so that God’s work may be furthered.
SECOND: 1. To do each day’s work to the best of my ability. 2. To expand my leisure time in the pursuit of courses, good reading, etc., so that I may better my mind and increase my knowledge, that I may be preparing myself for something better in this life—that I might take advantage of any greater opportunities offered me by God as a part of His plan for me.
TO THE END: That I might live a life pleasing unto the Lord. That I might reap the harvest of a Christian life. That in this life, I might have the satisfying, useful and prosperous results of such living.
Signed: CR Miller
He went on to live this out, serving as a minister, a missionary, a Christian light at a secular university as a professor of history, a godly father and grandfather:
Rich Swingle

Monday, January 2, 2012

How Cliff married the family

In 1942, Jimmy Ostema, the first husband of Hilda Triezenberg, had taken a trip to Chicago, which was almost 200 miles away from their home in Charleston, Illinois, to show his newborn baby, Judy, off to friends and relatives. On that trip he got sick, and his temperature rose to 108 degrees.

Their daughter Jeri, who was 17 months old, was singing to her father, but she and Judy, 9 weeks old, were both pulled away from him for fear that they contract spinal meningitis, the source of his illness. Hilda begged the Lord to keep her 26-year-old husband alive to help her raise their two daughters. Hilda asked the Lord how they could ever crawl out of $600 of debt, which would have been almost $8,000 in today's economy, if Jimmy didn't get better. But he got worse. His heart stopped beating, and he was declared dead. Hilda was sobbing and sobbing and still praying when he came back to life! He said, "Hilda, I'll miss you and the girls, but it's so wonderful there! I've seen the Lord. It's far better to be with Him. He will give you another husband who will be a father to our daughters. Let me go." He lived another week, but Hilda eventually told the Lord she trusted Him to take Jimmy home.

At the funeral many expressed their grief for the family by slipping Hilda money. Every year on the anniversary of Jimmy's death Hilda would sit her girls down and tell them about their father. In the same way the people of Israel celebrated passover every year so that each generation would remember the Lord's protection and deliverance long after they begged Him to stop talking to them directly, Hilda told the girls about their father's love for them, about how he would play his trumpet to draw people to their Bible Center so they could understand their Heavenly Father's love for them. She told them about his glimpse of heaven, about how they counted up the gifts from Jimmy's funeral on their bed, and about it all adding up to $600. It was exactly what they needed to escape debt! When my brother Bob and I came along, Grandma would tell us those stories, too. There were many times that she would tell us how the Lord would guide her by providing an exact amount needed for a ministry endeavor to which she felt called, and that intimate language she shared with the Lord was first spoken and understood at her husband’s funeral.

When she was only three years old, Jeri shared these amazing truths on Moody Bible Institute's radio program. Hilda and Jimmy had met while students at Moody. Cliff had attended the school at the same time, but they hadn't known each other well. The station received numerous calls from people who had given their lives to the Lord because of the young evangelist.

Jimmy's father, a retired minister, was invited to shepherd the small congregation of the Bible Center, but on his first Sunday he told them that he knew of a young Moody Bible Institute graduate who was working on his masters degree: He recommended Cliff Miller to fill the pulpit as an interim preacher.

Meanwhile Hilda and the girls went to live with her widowed father. A little over three years later he remarried, and Hilda thought it wise to re-empty her father's nest. She found a place back in Charleston. She was told about the young man now preaching at the Bible Center.

 Here's Cliff's description of how they met from his memoirs:
I was speaking... one Sunday morning early in 1946 when a young woman with two little girls came through the front door. After the service I went to the door to greet people. One of the little girls (Geraldine) grabbed my leg and announced to her embarrassed widowed mother that she wanted a daddy, too! Well Geri probably started something..." 
So on September 28, 1946, Cliff married the family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me

Joyce just led me through a bit of a service in memory of Grandpa. We sang Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me, which was a favorite of his.

If you think of others please post them as a comment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mom & Grandpa outside his favorite restaurant

This was his favorite place to eat out, but he loved eating at his home, which he lovingly referred to as his retirement resort.

Grandpa's apartment

Grandpa, being the historian that he was, turned his apartment into a virtual museum, complete with models of the Hindenberg, The Spirit of St. Louis, etc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

History lessons learned

Dr. Miller was my United States history teacher at Southern Oregon College during the l959-60 school year. Every since learning his body and spirit parted company, I have from time to time been thinking about his lasting influence on me.

I never learned his personal views. He never exposed himself as being a Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, socialist, communist ... I learned history as viewed by historians Beard, Johnson and Turner.

I recall that after his lecture on the cause of the Civil War, I was convinced that economics caused the war. The very next lecture, Dr. Miller gave an equally convincing argument that the war was caused by politics. His third lecture gave the westward movement equal status as to the cause of the Civil War.

Dr. Miller did find some government actions to be overreaching. However, he was equally critical of other governments. He did not blame America for all the world's problems.

Today, in contrast to Dr. Miller, there are many arrogant college instructors who expound history through their own bias. The students are not equipped to argue with the self-centered instructor. They have not read Charles A. Beard's The Rise of American Civilization.

— Bill Hartley,
Medford, Oregon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo of Mom and Grandpa

From Jen Hodder

I had lost all four of my grandparents by the time I had first met Grandpa Miller. I felt I loved him instantly. Dave and I went and stayed with him for a number of days, and he took amazing care of us. 

He cooked us breakfast every morning, and helped us to map out our days in Oregon. 

We had since visited him a number of times, and I grew to love him more with each visit. I felt he fast became a grandparent to me.

I was so saddened to hear of his passing, and miss him. I am so sad that I will never see him again here in the physical world.

We love you so much Grandpa!

With love,

Jen Hodder

Friday, November 12, 2010

Missing Grandpa

I find myself going from celebrating Grandpa's well-lived life to mourning the loss of one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

Here were some responses from Facebook...
13 hours ago via Email ·  · 
    • Steve Hamre He did good with you brother. I'm honored to call you my friend Ricardnov.
      13 hours ago · 
    • Paula Bernhardt 
      I am finding that things hit me at very odd times, too...just the smallest things can trigger memories and great emotion, either sad or happy or hysterically funny. I don't really want to eat pie right now because no one made a pie crust as good as my grandma's and I am just thinking about her a lot these days. 
      I'll be praying for you, Rich! Let the moments happen.
      12 hours ago · 
    • David Winters Sorry to hear of your loss in this life. Praying for you and your family.
      39 minutes ago · 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cliff's Life Verse

In the years since my Dad died, Joe Miller, Cliff's older brother, I had occasional correspondance with Cliff.  Sometimes cards, and short letters.  Also, notes on his life.  On several occasions with great emphasis, the would proclaim his Life Verse, Prov 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  It was important to him, and me. 
Best wishes to you. 
-Craig Miller

Saturday, November 6, 2010

from Rich's church

From Westchester Chapel Church of the Nazarene

My condolences. Yes your father is with our Father now!

Dear Joyce and Rich,
So sorry to hear the news but comforted that Grandpa is now with the Lord. Praying for the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your mourning.
In Jesus' name.

Monday, November 1, 2010

From members of our worship team

Dear Rich & Joyce,
We were so sorry to learn about your  Grandfather's passing.  May the Lord watch over you and your family as you grieve his loss &
celebrate his life.  It is good to know that he is  with the Lord and that he is enjoying the joy & peace that surpasses all our understanding!

In God's infinite Grace...
Bill & Liz
Worship Team Members
Westchester Chapel Church of the Nazarene

From our church's prayer update

* Please pray for the Swingles as they mourn the passing of Rich's grandpa.

Pray for the Lord's peace and joy to be their strength as they contemplate his residence with the Lord Jesus now.

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Cliff meets his great-grand daughter Amelia Ferne

Heaven is richer

Heaven is richer today, but what a wonderful man he was.

  I remember him as a tall and very handsome man, my Uncle Cliff;  and as a little girl, I use to get to stay with him, Aunt Hilda and the girls in the basement apartment of the Twin City Bible Church in Urbana, IL. when they were home from  Africa on furlough.  He was lots of fun, and the only one finally able to get me to stop sucking my thumb!  :)

My sympathy to your family in your earthly loss.

Lydia Hooberry

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clifford Miller, Christmas 2008

This photo of Grandpa was taken at Christmas dinner in 2008, where he was surrounded by loved ones sharing stories and a good meal. He was always a very generous man and insisted on providing everyone with a banquet when family was in town, "My treat! My treat!" His wisdom, foresight, and a lifetime of prudence allowed him to live his final years in luxury. At meal times he would say "They're going to fatten me up here!" But his passion for fitness and an active lifestyle kept him in excellent shape beyond his years.

Condolences and Prayers from Facebook

These prayers and condolences were posted to my Facebook page,

I got a call from my folks about an hour before my 93-year-old grandpa died. I was able to thank him for all he'd done to inspire me and pray with him, reminding him of his Salvation. We've started a memorial blog for him:
Yesterday at 6:46pm ·  · 

  • Irene Kao and Renee' Carper Adams like this.

    • Amie Harris Sorry for ur loss
      Yesterday at 6:48pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Maria Hood Sorry to hear of your loss, Rich. I'm sure he was surrounded by love from around as well as above! May the Comforter be with you.
      Yesterday at 6:48pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Larry Mancini Sorry Rich. He is joins my grandparents in heaven- they are waiting for us!.. cheering us on! May the LORD give you comfort and strength this evening. It won't be long until we are all together forever!
      Yesterday at 6:53pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Taunya Molnar I am so sorry for your and your family are in my prayers....
      Yesterday at 7:01pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Scott Cornett Rich - You will be in our thoughts and prayers
      Yesterday at 7:12pm · 

    • Reg Parks Rich - my wife and I extend our heart felt condolences to you and your family. We keep you in prayer. So wonderful how you got to share with him how he had impacted your life.
      Yesterday at 7:45pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Paula Bernhardt My deep sympathy to you and your family, Rich. I am so glad you had a chance to speak with him...what a precious memory that will be. I pray your knowledge of his salvation will sustain you all and give you hope and comfort.
      Yesterday at 8:20pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Barbara Overgaard condolences to you Rich, and your family. Sounds like an amazing man with a well-lived life...
      Yesterday at 9:13pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Lee Graber Glad to know he inspired you to do great things Rich. Great to know he is in God's presence now. What an awesome creator we have! I'm sure he is proud of you.
      Yesterday at 9:38pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Kimberly Messer What a long life. Sorry for your loss.
      Yesterday at 9:51pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Mac Nelson Rich, I know how very much you loved your grandfather. It's always such a great gift from God when we get to have that closure with one another. Blessings on you and your family.
      Yesterday at 10:41pm ·  ·  1 person

    • John Forbes Rich -- sorry for your loss -- how great that he knows the Lord -- what a full life . . .
      21 hours ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Angela Davis Oh boy, I'm so sorry Rich. What an honor to have such a wonderful example to follow! You are blessed. Praying for comfort for you and your family this week!
      19 hours ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Amy Brenna So sorry to hear about your grandfather. Joyce told me he wasn't well.
      13 hours ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Bonnie Yvonne Wolfman Dallas called me last night ~ he was a special man ~ I am thankful for the time with him ~ he encouraged me so much to continue with education...he will be missed...many comforts and peace to your family...
      10 hours ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Bobbye Stafford McElrath Sorry about your grandpa, Rich. I'm so glad you got to talk to him and pray with him before he crossed over. Think of you often. Tell Mac hello when you see him.
      8 hours ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Larry Belew Our prayes are with you. There is great comfort in honoring a long life of service and inspiration. But when they're people we dearly love it's not easy to say, "Goodbye," even at the age of 93."
      about an hour ago ·  ·  1 person

13 hours ago ·  ·  · Share

    • Deanna Chiong my condolences to your family...He must be an inspiration to you! take care!
      13 hours ago · 

    • Elizabeth McDermott Rich I am sorry for your loss, but he is with the Lord and I am celebrateing along with you. May you be blessed witth the memories and the moments of your life together.
      October 31 at 1:33pm ·  ·  1 person · 
    • David M Sanborn Sounds like a joyful homecoming. Praying for you... Ricky! ;)
      November 2 at 8:52pm ·  ·  1 person · 
Click this link to see if anyone else has posted: Facebook Prayers.