Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

TAVR -Amazing!

 
        The adventure started when she was just a child.  She was a victim of rheumatic fever and while she survived to lead a normal life, she did live with the effects of this disease for decades.
          Many years later her gastro specialist, during a routine exam, heard a heart murmur  This began an annual visit with a cardiologist who carefully followed her heart conditions and monitored the murmur.  We knew that at some point she would probably need a heart valve replaced.  I assumed that this could mean traveling to another location, such as Cleveland, to have the best surgeons do this surgery.  I did not look forward to this event.
          A few years ago she was sent to the hospital for a stress test after feinting at home.  Because of the results of this test she was kept there for a cauterization.  That resulted in surgery for the implanting of a pacemaker.
          Then in January, following her annual echocardiogram, her heart doctor told her that he felt that she needed to consider having the aortic heart valve replaced.  He said that not having it done would eventually lead to congestive heart failure and if she were ten years older he probably would not give her this advice.
          What was interesting, however, is that he thought that she might be a candidate for a relatively new procedure called TAVR.  Instead of breaking the chest bone they would go up an artery through her groin and place the new valve in her heart. Recovery time would be very short.  The only problem was getting Medicare to cover it.  The local hospital and two  surgeons were experienced in doing this new surgery.
          So we began trying to get through the hoops for approval.  This required a battery of tests and three approvals by three different heart surgeons.  This took us four months to complete.  Then we had to wait in line for scheduling since this surgery was only done every Tuesday.  Finally it was scheduled for June 11.
           The day of the surgery she entered the hospital late morning and by the middle of the afternoon she was finally in surgery.  Two hours later we were told that surgery was over and successful.  Two hours later than that she was in a hospital room.  Thank the Lord she even skipped time in the ICU.
          If she wouldn't have had some reaction to the anesthesia she might have been sent home the next day.  But they kept her another day and then released her with some new meds.  A week later she was taken off her restrictions and allowed to drive again.
          Now she will continue to have tests to make sure the new valve is working correctly.  And she will have about three months of cardiac rehab.  We asked the surgeon how long the valve will work and he told us that he didn't know.  The surgery is too new for them to know.
          We continue to be amazed at this unbelievable surgery.  We thank the Lord for an excellent surgeon right here in Lancaster.  And we thank the Lord for His leading and protection during this adventure.

(1)      O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

(2)      When through the woords, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

(3)      And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

(4)      When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
          
          

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Up In Smoke


          Many things have changed over my lifetime and some of the changes have even been for the good.  One of the major changes has been with cigarette smoking.
          When I was a teen, smoking was widely accepted.  Ads for cigarettes were common.  Smoking in restaurants and in public transportation was tolerated and not even questioned.
          Because being exposed to smoke often made my wife sick, I was often blunt with smokers, especially on busses and at athletic competitions.  Often I would warn smokers sitting near us that my wife might throw up on them from the smoke.  Usually that was enough to make them stop or move.
          Thankfully, I never smoked, even though many of my friends did.  I didn't smoke because my parents didn't and because I was taught that my body was the temple of God.  However, I came close one time.  I was on a bus trip to a Phillies game with the Lititz Hot Stove League.  Most of the folks on the trip were smoking.  On the way home we stopped at a restaurant on the turnpike and my friends bought cigarettes from a vending machine.  I was tempted to do the same and was looking at the machine when somebody said "Hi Barry"  I turned to find that it was our assistant Sunday School superintendent.  That scare was enough to stop me.
          But since those days medical science has shown the evils of smoking and fortunately many have stopped.  Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.  More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.  Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.  Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen
          And those facts should be enough to scare you.  But even though I never smoked, for some reason I have COPD.  As a result I have been going to pulmonary rehab two times a week for about a year.  I also use two inhalers and take a med for my breathing.
          One of the interesting things about rehab are the interesting people we get to know.  There have been three in particular who have been part of my group.  All are older than I am and all three must use oxygen. Recently all three admitted to being smokers most of their lives until they recently quit.
          However, C. recently quit rehab because she could no longer afford it.  I wonder how much she spent over the years on her habit and that may have helped drain her financially as well as physically.  Another, A., quit smoking just recently and is upset because she can no longer travel to Colorado to see her daughter because of her need for oxygen. The third, J., had gone to John Hopkins because of his breathing difficulty.  They told him that if he didn't stop smoking he would soon die.  And five years ago, with the help of doctors, he was able to quit.  But today he needs a scooter and oxygen to get around.  These are all nice intelligent folks who made bad decisions and are now paying for it.
          Working with these folks has made me more aware of the dangers of smoking and thankful that I never started.  PTL for the intervention the Lord provided that kept me from starting.
          But it does make me very sad to see young folks smoking, especially young girls.  Maybe all teens should be forced to visit rehab and talk to folks who are now on oxygen because they were smokers.  But would that make a difference?  Unfortunately, probably not.

1)   Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

(2)   Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

(3)   Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

(4)   Living for Jesus through earth's little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Is God Really In Control? (LB)


LOOKING BACK - Repeating a blog that I first published on December 22, 2008


          God can work in amazing ways - here are a few things that we experienced during the past few days.  (1)  I took our car for inspection and while the car passed they told me that I needed four new tires before winter - $500!  I refused their "offer" because I had just had them checked a month earlier.  But right after a 400 mile trip we found that we had picked up a screw in a front tire so I went to a tire dealer that I trust.  He told me that my tires would last another year, but because there was some early cracking and they were guaranteed, they could replace them for $240, including alignment.  I accepted and replaced all four not realizing all the driving we would do, in snowy icy weather, the following week when Dianne's dad died.  How much safer we felt.  PTL!  
          (2)  We needed to find a motel in the Sunbury area and at our third stop we met a manager who had been a neighbor of Dianne's dad several years ago.  And while we didn't know her, because of his death, she gave us a bargain price for the three nights that we stayed there. PTL!  
          (3) When we heard that Dianne's dad's condition was terminal, we were concerned that because of the holiday the church would not be available.  We also knew that the pastor would be away on vacation for the week.  But God's timing was perfect and we were able to bury him on Saturday morning before Christmas week. PTL!
          (4)  When we received the call about her dad's death at 1 in the morning, I was concerned because they were predicting sleet and freezing rain.  So we decided to leave for Sunbury early in the morning and we drove through sleet for an hour until suddenly, above Harrisburg, the weather cleared.  We were able to do all the funeral planning that day in clear weather, while back home they had slick roads.  PTL! 
           PTL!  (5)  The week of his death we experienced a series of winter storms.  They had predicted six inches or more of snow in Sunbury on Friday before the Saturday funeral.  But the snow turned to rain late Friday afternoon allowing our children to safely make the trip.  Saturday was clear and very cold and while we couldn't get into the cemetery because of the ice and snow, we were able to have the graveside ceremony from the church parking lot only about 40 yards from the grave.  PTL!  
          (6)  We were perplexed about how much food to purchase for the luncheon to be held after the service since we didn't know how the weather would affect the attendance.  In fact we had planned not to eat if we had more people stay than we predicted.  The cold icy weather did prevent many from coming and we had an adequate amount of food for all who stayed.  PTL!  
          So were all of these situations just lucky coincidences or did the Lord intervene and answer many prayers, including those about the weather?   You may have your own opinion, but I personally believe that the Lord does answer prayer and we had many folks on our prayer chain taking our concerns before the Lord.  
          I am reminded of a song that our family used to sing when we did programs as part of our family ministry.
  
He holds the future in the palm of His Hand, 
And He has never failed me yet, 
I know He's leading and still has control, 
So why should I worry or fret. 
I know He holds the future, 
and I know He holds my hand, 
I know just as sure as I'm singing this song, 
I'm a part of His almighty plan. 
I believe, I believe, I believe, 
So why should I worry or fret."  

Maybe I needed to repeat this blog for myself if for nobody else.  As we face many new challenges it often becomes easy to forget how God has led and provided in the past.  I daily need to get over the worry and fretting, because He really is in control.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

17 Inches


          Somebody recently sent this story to me and I felt that I needed to share it here in my blog.  Unfortunately I don't know who the author is.

          Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — "John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare."
          Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there. In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung -  a full-sized, stark-white home plate.  Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?
         After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he'd gotten on stage.
          Then, finally … "You're probably all wondering why I'm wearing home plate around my neck," he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. "I may be old, but I'm not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I've learned in my life, what I've learned about home plate in my 78 years."
          Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?"  After a pause, someone offered, "Seventeen inches?", more of a question than answer.
          "That's right," he said. "How about in Babe Ruth's day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?" Another long pause.  "Seventeen inches?" a guess from another reluctant coach.
          "That's right," said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?" Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. "How wide is home plate in high school baseball?"  "Seventeen inches," they said, sounding more confident.
          "You're right!" Scolinos barked. "And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?"   "Seventeen inches!" we said, in unison.
          "Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?"............"Seventeen inches!"   "RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?   "Seventeen inches!"
          "SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!" he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. "And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can't throw the ball over seventeen inches?" Pause. "They send him to Pocatello !" he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. "What they don't do is this: they don't say, 'Ah, that's okay, Jimmy. If you can't hit a seventeen-inch target we'll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We'll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can't hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'"
          Pause. "Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice, or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? "
          The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach's message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. "This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.   We don't teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!"
         Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. "This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?"
         Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. "And this is the problem in the church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it."
         "And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don't apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch."
         I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.   From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.
         "If I am lucky," Coach Scolinos concluded, "you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools, churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …"
         With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside…"We have dark days ahead!."
         Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: "Coaches, keep your players - no matter how good they are - your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."
          And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it!
          "Don't widen the plate."


Saturday, June 15, 2019

And Then It Is Winter


         Solomon said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11. or those of us who are seniors, we get the sense of this being played out in the writings like this one below.  I don't know the author but I think he/she is very wise in his/her observations.  And for those who aren't yet seniors, know that these years will come sooner than you expect.

             You know time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.  It seems like yesterday that I was young, just married, and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all those years went.  I know that I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.   But, here it is ...  the winter of my life, and it catches me by surprise... How did I get here so fast? 
         Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those "older people" were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.  
          But, here it is .. . my friends are retired and getting grey ..  they move slower and I see an older person in myself now.   Some are in better and some worse shape than me... but, I see the great change .. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant ... but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.
          Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore ...  it's mandatory! Cause if I don't on my own free will ...  I just fall asleep where I sit!   And so ...  now I enter this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!   But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last ... this I know, that when it's over on this earth ...  it's over. A new adventure will begin!
          Yes, I have regrets.  There are things I wish I hadn't done ...  things I should have done, but indeed, there are also many things I'm happy to have done.   It's all in a lifetime.
          So, if you're not in your winter yet. .. l et me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.  So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly!  Don't put things off too long!!  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can TODAY, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!  
          You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life ... so, LIVE FOR CHRIST TODAY and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember ..  and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!
           "Life" is a GIFT to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.   Make it a fantastic one.    Remember:  "It is Health that is real Wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."

~Your kids are becoming you .... but your grandchildren are perfect!
~Going out is good .. coming home is even better!
~You forget names... but it's OK, because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you're never going to be really good at anything ... especially golf.
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It's called "pre-sleep."
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch.
~You tend to use more 4 letter words ... "what?"... "when?"... ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet ...  2 of which you will never wear.

~But "Old" is good in some things:   Old Songs, Old movies ...  and best of all, our dear ... OLD FRIENDS!!    Stay well, "OLD FRIEND!"

1.     In His time, In His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord please show me every day
As You're teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say 
In Your time.

2.   In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord my life to You I bring 
May each song I have to sing
Be to you a lovely thing 
In Your time.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Professional or Amateur?


          Sometimes performances by amateurs can actually be better than some done by professionals.
          For the past two years we have not been able to go out much because of the numerous physical challenges we have been dealing with.  And I must admit that I have missed the opportunities to go out to visit friends or to eat or to enjoy plays or even to attend athletic contests.  Most of our "social activities" have revolved around our church and our responsibilities there.
          But a few weeks ago I decided to take my wife out on a date to see a production at Dutch Apple.  In the past we have enjoyed shows there. We skipped the meal but were able to get tickets for two seats just for the show.  I had read the information about the play "Lucky Stiff" and it sounded like it would be a good night of comedy.
          But the first clue that it might not be too great came when we arrived and found that the auditorium was only half full, or should I say half-empty. That was unusual.  The story line turned out to be rather stupid - a millionaire had died and named his nephew as his beneficiary.  But to earn his huge inheritance he had to take his uncle - after he died - to Monte Carlo to "enjoy" a number of activities that had already been set up.  So the whole story was about taking this "stiff" to all these prearranged activities while a female friend tried to keep him from completing these requirements.  And, of course, there was a stupid ending to this stupid plot.  I guess we laughed a few times, but not too much.  And I guess it was a night out even though I could now find some better ways to have spent my money.
          Then, a few days later we went to see a production by the Conestoga Valley Middle School - grades seven and eight.  We had seen their plays previously when both of our granddaughters had parts.  And, despite being done by seventh and eighth graders, the plays were always very well done and enjoyable.  This time our youngest grandson, Brodie, had two parts in the play.
          The basic story was about a king and a queen who had four adult children who were rude and obnoxious.  The parents tried all sorts of things, including marriage, to get them out of the house for good.  In one scene they brought in a prince - our Brodie - to try and make a match with the older daughter, Princess Cinnamon, but she had no time at all for him or anybody else.
           During the intermission Brodie came and sat in the audience between my wife and I.  In the second half the royal parents tried to use some special brews to change their rude kids.  And Princess Cinnamon mistakenly drank a brew that would make her fall in love with the first person she would see.  And after drinking it she wandered to the edge of the stage where she saw Brodie.  The spotlight then shown on him.  He was now Eddie the Plumber and he went to the stage where they discussed plumbing and promptly fell in love.  There were all sorts of other outcomes for the other children, but the best was the marriage between Princess Cinnamon and "Eddie the Plumber from Leola".  (Incidentally the Princess was actually the daughter of one of a well know pastor of a large area fundamental church).
          The play was well done with great special effects. The actors were excellent. The story line was intriguing and better than that of the lucky stiff.  And we laughed and enjoyed ourselves.  And we didn't need to pay Dutch Apple fees.  It certainly was a much better evening out.
          I'm not really sure what the moral of this blog is except that you don't always need to pay a huge fee to have a relaxing evening.  Sometimes young amateurs can produce a more enjoyable evening than professionals.

  1. All my life I had a longing
For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

 2. Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

 3. Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul's sad cry.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

 4. Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

50 YEARS (LB)

LOOKING BACK - Repeating a blog that I first published on June 5, 2013.   Of course now it is 57 years rather than 50!

          50 years sounds like a long time. A half century sounds even longer.  But to me the past 50 years of married life have gone by so quickly.  And I would not trade them for anything. Dianne and I were brought together by the Lord who has guided us with His faithfulness and presence.  We may be very unusual because in 50 years we have never had a major disagreement or fight.  On our honeymoon the Lord gave us  Psalm 92:13, "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." And we have tried to follow those words for 50 years and we rejoice in God's goodness.  
         Now how do you describe 50 years?  Well let me make an attempt by listing 50 things for which I am especially thankful.  1-3  are Craig, Ken and Tim, our three sons.  They love and serve the Lord and are great fathers.  What more could we want?   4-6 are Kisha, Sandy and Wendy, our three daughter-in-laws.  We love them like daughters and thank God for them.  7-13 are Zach, Josh, Taylor, Noah, Chloe, Lexie and Brodie, our seven grandchildren.  All have asked the Lord to be their Savior.  14 -17 would be our parents.  All four loved the Lord and modeled Him to us.  All four are now with Him in heaven. 18 would be our extended family.  We have been blessed with grandparents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, in-laws, cousins and nephews and nieces who love the Lord.  19.  Friends - we have been blessed with numerous friends who have enriched our married life over 50 years.  Many of them are now in heaven.  
          20-23 would by the four homes that we have lived in.  Each were special provisions with special stories about them. The present one has now been our home for almost 42 years.  24-25 Two estates settled, at the same time.  I'm not sure that I ever want to be an executor again, but we learned much and saw so many special answers to prayer during that time.  26 - My special job as a teacher/administrator for 39 years.  Few people can stay that long at one place and say that they enjoyed it all.  It was God's special provision to us and a definite answer to prayer when I had to choose from four job offers nearly 50 years ago.  27 - Many part-time jobs over the years that supplemented a teacher's salary and enabled Dianne to stay at home and be a full-time mother.  These included writing questions for Educational Testing Service, teaching adult ed, doing homebound instruction, coaching, working for the Sunday News for 25 years, Books In Print editorial staff. chief statistician for PIAA basketball play-offs for 25 years, Cherry Hill Orchards, software prep for ISC, consultant for an Addison Wesley geometry textbook and working with my wife for the Lancaster County Election Bureau for ten years.  28 - The opportunity for us to travel and visit 25 major cities in the U.S. and Canada as part of my job responsibilities.  This included speaking at five major national conventions.  29 - Having a family ministry for 25 years including and presenting almost 100 programs a year.  We won't know until heaven how many families were touched by the Lord, but we do know that it taught our boys many lessons and developed in them special strengths and skills which they use today.  
          30 - Over 40 years of ministry at Pinebrook working with children and music.  For most of those years it was a ministry in the summer but for the last ten it has been with hymn sings and retreats throughout the year.  31 - Multiple opportunities to serve, often side-by-side, for 50 years in our church.  This has included Sunday School (teachers, department leader, superintendent), music (piano, organ, solos, duets, choir, administration, Christmas Eve program leadership), adult Bible studies, elder and committees, prayer chain coordinators.  32 - Awana.  What can I say about the opportunity to lead for 30 years, to minister to children, and to provide training for adults.  Together we have now completed all three levels of Awana college training in Hershey, Pittsburgh and Chicago.  These years with this great program have been very special.  
          33 - 50 represent 18 operations and procedures under anesthesia.  They include numerous biopsies, only one of which has shown cancer.  In addition there have been many dozens of other tests.  But through all of this we thank God for the health and life that He has given us.  We don't know what lies ahead, but God is faithful and He goes before us.  So there are 50.  I could easily list another 50.  We just say, thank you Lord for 50 great years together.  Our desire is to continue to live for Him and to serve Him here on earth as long as He gives us the health and strength to do so.  And, by the way, 50 years goes faster than you can imagine.  So use your today to live for Him.
          (Note - Much more has happened in the seven years since this has written but God and His blessing upon us hasn't changed.  Yesterday, today and forever He will remain faithful to His children.)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Forced Audience

          I've really tried hard to avoid discussing political topics in this blog.  Politics (Poly meaning many, Tics meaning bloodsucking pests) can be very controversial and I don't want to offend any of the few blog readers that I still have.  Good friends can have differing viewpoints but it is often better to just keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself.  But an experience that I have  recently been having has upset me enough that I must share it.
          Now I am learning to try and keep away from watching the news on television.  But some of our friends watch it continually.  We have some who view Fox regularly and get very involved in the conservative approach shown there.  I have never taken time to watch it.
          But for the past several months I have attended Pulmonary Rehab at the Lancaster General Hospital's Health Campus facility.  The rehab is run by the Pulmonary Associates of Lancaster.  For two hours each week I exercise there.  Because of my back problems it is the only exercise that I get anymore and I enjoy it and need it.
          But while we workout they have televisions playing for those of us who are exercising.  They have two large monitors in front of the exercise equipment so we can't help but see and hear what is on.  Now despite concerns that I have shared with them, the televisions are always turned to MSNBC and we are a "captive" audience.
          Before I started attending I had heard stories about how liberal, leftist and prejudiced this channel is.  But since I never watched it before, I never realized how slanted the programming really is.  It certainly is the voice of the Democratic Party.
          In my many weeks of forced observation I have never seen an unbiased approach.  Everything reported is anti-Trump, anti-Republican and anti-conservative.  Now I could take that if there was an equal and fair representation of the opposite sides.  But I have never seen that on this channel.
          The majority of interviews are with Democratic members of Congress, members of the liberal press, former members of the Obama and Clinton administrations and Democratic candidates running for president.  And the moderator of the program always sets these folks up to present their anti-conservative attacks. If a Republican is speaking somewhere or making news, they will usually break in with comments and coverage of  liberals like Pelosi, Schumer or now Biden.
          The push is on to impeach the president and push the liberal agenda.  The coverage of the Kavenaugh hearings was pathetic and so biased.  The day after the signing of the very restrictive abortion law in Alabama they pulled out loads of pro-abortion folks - all democrats - many running for president.  One after another they criticized the new law and pro-abortion supporters.  They didn't interview a single person who was anti-abortion.  Is this fair reporting?  I think not.
          Oh yes, candidate Warren had to condemn Fox News for being biased.  Really?
          Now with the increase of heavy attacks by the left to destroy Trump and his programs, this very biased attack makes me sick and sad. I don't know if there really is "fake" news, but there certainly is very biased and offensive news.  I always thought media sources were for the good of the country and should be neutral.  But I guess I am naive or living in the past!
          I guess I am also disappointed with LGH for allowing this one-sided news to be viewed by its paying patients.  Another participant and I used to successfully lobby to have game shows played instead of the news.  But we had to do that every session and now that she completed the program I appear to be the only one upset with this channel.  Verbal and written suggestions have not had any effect
          I should clarify, Fox may do the same thing from a conservative approach.  I don't know since I don't watch that network.
          Sadly I think the television networks are making the divide in our country even greater as they use their power to sway the country.
          The problem that we are now facing in our elections is not just possible Russian interference, but media interference.
          
(1)    God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

(2)    Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

(3)    From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

(4)     Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Challenges of Aging

          I enjoy siting and watching people.  I often do this while my wife is shopping and I am waiting for her in the car.  It is a very interesting "hobby" that has developed since I am now limited in how much walking I can do.
         Recently while waiting at a local grocery store I was sad to see the struggle that a few folks had trying to enter or leave the store.  Several were in worse shape than me.  First, one elderly man slowly crossed the parking lot with his cane.  He was so slow and in obvious pain, but he finally made it.  Then an elderly lady pulled in next to our car.  I couldn't see her and I wondered where she had gotten to.  Finally I realized that she was getting her walker out of the rear seat of her car.  It took almost ten minutes before she emerged and slowly struggled to the store's entrance.  There she exchanged her walker for a shopping cart and entered the store heavily leaning on the cart
          While I was in no shape to help them, I suffered just watching them.  As I related previously in one of my blogs, I wondered if they couldn't find anyone to help them with their shopping.  I should have told them that there were other stores where you could order your groceries online and they would load them in your car or even deliver them right to your home.  But, possibly since both were elderly, they might not have had computers or smart phones or maybe didn't know how to use them.
          It is so hard to get old.  Until recently I never knew how hard it really is.  And it comes at you so very fast - faster than you ever expected.  I used to think that getting old was partially a mental thing.  But when the body no longer works it is more than mental.
         Just a year ago, despite recent surgeries, I was able to do most  of the things around home - inside and outside.  No real problem doing so.  But suddenly I can do almost nothing myself.  It is frustrating and scary.  It is hard to feel helpless and realize there is little hope of improving.  And it is worse when your spouse reaches the same stage of life and becomes limited in what she can do.
         So what do you do when you suddenly reach this stage?  SOLUTION 1 - Well the first thing you try is to hire somebody to help you out.  So far we've been able to hire people to cut grass, shovel our snow, cut some of our trees, do our mulching and some of our trimming.  It is expensive, but it works.  However it is hard to find folks to do some of the work. Who is available and willing to do your weeding, planting of flowers and grass seed, removal of leaves, needed landscaping repairs and regular trimming of shrubs and trees?   We are looking for those that we can also pay to help us with these chores.  But they are hard to find.
          SOLUTION 2 - We are now using online shopping for our groceries.  We go online to Stauffers, place our order once a week, drive to the store at a designated time and they load our car.  That is a major help although we still need to carry them into our house and put them away.
          SOLUTION 3 - We've had a few people tell us that if we need anything we should call them.  Well, while they might mean that, they aren't really expecting to have to come and weed our flower beds or do other grunt work.  They mean things like go to the store for us.  So we don't ask and they don't offer again. It is very hard to ask somebody to help you. It is the same thing that happens after a funeral when well meaning folks disappear.  Folks say if you ever need anything, just call me.  But they soon forget and nothing is ever done.
          And when you've been a "giver" most of your life it is very difficult to suddenly become a "receiver".  But over the years we've had some unexpected provisions.  When my mother died a family from our church showed up unexpectedly and spent hours raking our many leaves.  Once when we lost many large branches in a storm another church family showed up unexpectedly and hauled them away for us.  And we have had a few surprises from neighbors who cleared our snow.  So, PTL, there are some good people who recognize the needs of the elderly and just step up to help them without being asked.  I hope the two folks I watched at the store have some kind folks who will come to help them out.
           Somebody from our church recently asked us why our family doesn't help.  Well they do and they would do anything that we asked them to do.  But our boys have very demanding jobs, long commutes to and from work, their own homes and families to care for and have limited extra time.  And they don't live here in our community.  And because of this probable same question by others we are reluctant to ask others for help.
         SOLUTION $ - Now there is another solution, move to a retirement home.  But that is expensive and very hard to do when you have 50 years of possessions in your present home and your home needs many expensive repairs  And it is something that you should probably have done years before you reach our present stage of life.
         It is also difficult when you have fewer opportunities to minister to others when physical limitations no longer allow you to do the things you have done for many years.  That is harder to deal with that dealing with the many needs around your house.  But we are the Lord's "workmanship" and somehow He can still use us no matter how old and limited we become.
         SOLUTION 6 - You just let things go - weeds overtake your flower beds, leaves collect, shrubs don't get trimmed, repairs don't get done.  But life changes and you learn to adjust, even though at times it is very hard to accept.
          SOLUTION 7 - You just move on, doing the best that you can, trusting the Lord.  You know some things will no longer get done and you must learn to live with that. You ask the Lord for the help that you need and you trust Him to work it out.  And He has promised to take care of all of our needs as we trust Him.  And over nearly 80 years of life He has always done that and we know that somehow He will continue to do so. And He is preparing a better home for us without repairs and upkeep and without personal pain. The Lord is the best and most reliable helper available for the elderly.  He does not forget them even when their bodies wear out and normal life becomes rather challenging.
          Isaiah 46:4 "I will be your God throughout your lifetime - until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you".

1     Look all around you, find someone in need,
Help somebody today!
Tho' it be little--a neighborly deed--
Help somebody today! 
Chorus:
Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today! 

2    Many are 'waiting a kind, loving word,
Help somebody today!
You have a message, O let it be heard,
Help somebody today! Chorus:
Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today

3    Many have burdens too heavy to bear,
Help somebody today!
Grief is the portion of some everywhere,
Help somebody today! 
Chorus:
Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today

4    Some are discouraged and weary in heart,
Help somebody today!
Someone the journey to heaven should start,
Help somebody today! 
Chorus:
Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today