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, October 13, 2018

Robo Calls


          It was Thursday morning and I was at my twice a week visit to Pulmonary Rehab.  Dianne did not drive me there this time but stayed at home because she was not feeling well after her recent surgery and six day stay in the hospital.  I was carrying my cell phone just in case she got worse at home and needed my help.

          I was halfway through my work on the treadmill and had just reached my maximum speed for this session when my cell phone rang.  I did not recognize the caller but I was able to quickly pause the treadmill and answer it.  While I caught my breath the caller told me that she could reduce my credit card rate!
         For years we have gotten these annoying calls on our landline, but this was the second in three days that we received on our cell phone.  And we have to pay for these disgusting calls.  So very sad and irritating!  I don't know how they've now found our cell phone number because we seldom use it and never give it out to those we don't know.
          It appears that all one can really do about these calls is to just hang up.  Recently I have begun to try a new tactic.  If the caller is live, I tell them that I don't intend to buy but as a courtesy I will listen to their pitch if they then agree to listen to me for five minutes as I share with them the greatest gift that they can receive.  So far all that this has produced is hang-ups.  But you never know.
          I'm also considering another approach, asking for their name, and then beginning to pray for them, asking the Lord to speak to their needs and give them a more respectable job.  But I know that this won't get me anywhere either.
          I have sometimes enjoyed leading on the ones who call to tell me that they have found a problem with my Windows software.  After they get to the point that they want me to allow them to have access to my computer I then ask them what I do since I don't have Windows and am a Mac user.  They then hang up.
          Probably the best reply that I have made came completely accidentally.  The caller promised me better electric rates.  I replied that I am Amish and we don't have electricity.  The caller apologized and hung up.
          Two other recent calls were supposed to be from our grandchildren.  The first had drunk too much and needed money to get out of trouble.  On the most recent call my wife replied that the caller didn't sound like our grandson.  The caller immediately hung up.  Unfortunately we have heard of folks who have replied and sent money.
          Sadly we've heard too many stories about those who have lost large amounts of money to these scams.  I guess many seniors are vulnerable to these calls.
         I'm not sure what else can be done about them.  But remember there is never a "free lunch" and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

1.     Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
    
 2.     Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

  3.     Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
   
  4.     Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Memories


Note:  This blog was to actually been posted on September 7, but due to a technical problem it was not displayed.  So it is being posted again, a month later.

          September 11, 2001 ... that famous date brings back so many memories to almost all of us each year when we hit September 11. People remember where they were and recall the terrible images.  And like others once many memories again came back to me this week
          On that unforgettable day, 17 years ago, I was in my classroom during a block one prep period.  When I had completed my prep for block two I decided to turn on the large television mounted in the room to catch up on the news.  A few minutes later I was stunned to see the first plane plow into the towers.  Like most, I thought it was a horrendous accident.  But minutes later when the second plane hit the towers, it became dreadfully obvious that this was an act of terrorism against the United States.
          The television remained on for my block two and block three classes as my students joined me in quietly watching all the stunning developments.  Nobody was the least  bit interested in learning any math that day and I certainly didn't want to teach.  It reminded me of the day I was teaching many years ago when we received word that President Kennedy had been killed.  Those are days and events one never forgets.
           Another set of memories developed for me the following day when I learned more details about the crash of Flight 93.  It turns out that the rebellion by the passengers was led by Todd Beamer.  While I never met Todd, he was married to Lisa Brosious, the daughter of Paul, one of my very best friends.  Lisa had actually visited in our home with her parents while she was growing up.
          This crash was the second major tragedy in her life.  Years before, in October of 1984, her father dropped over with a sudden major heart attack.  Ironically, through his death  he met the Creator of the universe.  At the very same moment he entered heaven I had the honor of shaking hands with the most powerful person on earth, President Ronald Reagan, on the White House Lawn.  That day he honored me with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics.  I was one of 50 from throughout the country to receive this award.  The memories of that day and those two contrasting events are memories I shall never forget.
          But recalling the death of my close friend, Paul, brings back another set of memories of our times together.  I met him in 1959 when, as a freshman at Susquehanna University, I attended a church in Sunbury where Paul attended.  Although he was a few years older than I was, we quickly became friends.  We especially enjoyed singing in a young man's quartet, singing in the choir, going to quartet concerts and playing touch football whenever we could.
          When I met Paul he was working as an engineer for a local radio station.  After spending time with our college friends and with me he began to wish that he had gone to college.  But he had taken the general courses in high school and needed work to meet college entrance requirements.  One of the things he needed was trig.  He asked me to tutor him and I did.  It was the easiest tutoring job that I ever had. He was so bright that he quickly breezed through an entire trig course.
          Paul was accepted at Bloomsburg. After quickly earning a degree there he went to Bucknell for his masters.  Again, he quickly earned his degree there and moved on to Penn State where he earned his doctorate.  He was one of the most intelligent and motivated students that I have ever worked with.  Then he was hired by IBM where he was very successful in research, especially with miniaturization of computers.  IBM sent him to Europe to present his work to researchers there.  Nothing about his success surprised me.
          Unfortunately, his brothers had a history of early death from heart attacks.  And Paul was not an exception to this tragic history.  And on that October day the Lord called him home, leaving his wife and several children.  A very sad memory for so many.
          So it is interesting how sometimes one memory can lead to many more - some good, some not so good - but all part of God's plan.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Oh My Aching Back!


          Are you suffering from lower back pain right now?  If not, be prepared to do so.  Approximately 80% of Americans will suffer from this condition sometime during their lives.  The cost of this pain is about $600 million a year in medical treatments and lost productivity.

          Back pain is the second most common disability in US adults and a common cause of lost work days.  An estimated 149 million days of work are lost per year because of it.  But 95% of sufferers will recover within a few months.  Although 20% to 40% will have a recurrence within a year.
          A variety of treatments are tried.  Spinal injections are tried for 9% to 11%.  Surgery is done on 12% to 16%. and opioid medications for about 17%.  Many see a physical therapist or chiropractor.  Personally, I have tired all of these over the years.  However, I haven't yet tried acupuncture, another common treatment.
          Now I am part of the 80% who have suffered most of my life with back pain.  But I am not complaining. The Lord has been so good to me and I have enjoyed 77 years of good life, unlike my brother who died of prostate cancer and my very close friends who died of an embolism, lung cancer and a brain tumor.  Over the years I have experienced numerous surgeries - gall bladder, cataracts, torn patella, plate and screws in my thumb, five by-passes, lithotripsy and cervical and lumbar spinal surgeries.  But, PTL, the Lord brought me through all of these. I sometimes think my many battles with kidney stones have been worse.
           I probably have had back problems all of my life but didn't really know it until my mid 20's.  In high school, while I was involved in all sorts of athletics, I was unable to do tumbling.  This was embarrassing and became an emotional issue for me.  I loved school but used all sorts of excuses to get out of gym class when tumbling was the activity.  I thought there was something very wrong with me mentally and it was hard to endure these times.
          But then in my mid 20's I began to have serious hip and back pain.  Some days I had real difficulty getting out of bed and walking.  But I forced myself to keep going, enduring the pain.  I saw several different doctors, had numerous tests. and tried various medicines, some of which were very strong and dangerous.  Then one day a new doctor said that he knew what my problem was.  He put a tape measure around my chest and measured my expansion when breathing.  I had little expansion and he said that I had ankylosing spondilitis.  He confirmed it with special blood tests. And he began to treat me for this condition.
          Now this condition causes a fusing of the spine.  I still have some difficulty doing some things like bending to get into a car.  And I am limited in lifting some items.  But thankfully that has gone into remission and I have learned to live with the results.  And I am now convinced that this is what prevented me from doing tumbling and it is a relief to know that I wasn't crazy.
         Years later I was again having back pain so I saw a neurosurgeon.  He ordered some tests and then called me back and said that he could not do anything for me - it wasn't serious enough.
          Then about four years ago I went to the ER with heart symptoms.  They kept me overnight and did numerous tests, including an MRI.  The next morning that told me that it wasn't heart but that it was a problem with the discs in my neck and I needed to see a neurosurgeon.  I knew that it often took months to get an appointment with a good one but I called anyway.  They said that they would check my films and get back to me.  A few hours later they called back and said that it was serious and that they would do surgery in a couple of weeks.  And so my first back surgery was completed.
          Months later my back pain was worse again so I went back to the specialist and he ordered more tests.  Once again he ordered various tests and then recommended lumbar spine surgery.  I agreed and it was done.  But I continued to have pain and trouble walking and lifting.  They suggested shots, which I tried with no relief.  Then my surprise heart surgery interrupted that treatment.
          I have also had a recent history of bad headaches and my walking and balance became worse.  I saw the specialist again and he ordered more tests.  He then recommended another lumbar spine surgery.  When I asked if this would help my headaches, he sent me for tests of my neck.  The result was a recommendation for a second cervical spine surgery.  He recommended having that done first since the pressure on my spinal cord is so severe that I could be paralyzed if I should fall.
          So on Tuesday, October 2 ,I will reluctantly try my third spine operation.  If that goes well, after a recovery time of three to four months, I guess we will try my fourth spine operation.   (Please note - Since my wife has unexpectedly been in the hospital for surgery five days this week, I may need to postpone the planned surgery) Hopefully one of these will give me some relief to my bad headaches, my worsening balance and my walking issues. Life can be so much fun!  But God is good, all the time.  And I know that somehow He will take care of me and all the external concerns like collecting our many leaves this Fall and removing our snow this winter.
          So, if you think about it, please pray for me on Tuesday.  Pray that my surgery is successful and that I come through it well and heal quickly. Also pray for my wife's recovery.

God is so good,
God is so good,
God is so good,
He's so good to me!

God answers prayer,
God answers prayer,
God answers prayer,
He's so good to me!

He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He's so good to me!

I love Him so,
I love Him so,
I love Him so,
He's so good to me!

I'll do His will,
I'll do His will,
I'll do His will,
He's so good to me!

I  praise His name,
I praise His name,
I praise His name,
He's so good to me!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

She says, He says


          First it was corporate executives, then it was media leaders, next it was elected officials, then it was priests and church officials and now it is the candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States. Almost every day it is somebody new with sexual abuse accusations against them, many of which are decades old.

          Let me first react by saying, if they are guilty, these men deserve all  the punishments they are receiving  Numbers 32:23 reminds us, "ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."  You can't hide your sin, especially from the Lord, even if it did happen decades ago.  Satan is alive and sin abounds.  Many homes and even ministries have been destroyed by sexual acts.  We are all vulnerable if we aren't walking closely with the Lord.
          But what if it didn't happen?  What if an angry person decides to spoil your reputation by making a false claim against you?  What can the accused do, especially if the act is reported to have happened very long ago?  If there were any witnesses, can they still be found?  If no charges were filed at that time, there was no investigation or collection of evidence.  What can investigators do now to determine the truth?  Probably nothing.
          It turns out that it usually comes down to "she says, he says."  So who is telling the truth and how do you prove it?
          Unfortunately, once the accusation is made the reputation is ruined, no matter what an investigation eventually shows.  Even if innocent, the accused will still be judged guilty by many and nothing will allow them to regain the lost reputation and the person's future.  That's just the way it works in our society.  No longer innocent until proven guilty, no longer innocent even it proven innocent.
          Over the years, as I supervised many teachers, I frequently reminded my teachers to never tutor or help a student alone in a classroom, especially with the door closed.  If that student wants to get even with you, all the student needs to do is make a public accusation and you are done.  Again, even if an investigation shows that you are innocent, there will always be guilt in the mind of the public and your teaching career is over.
          The same warnings should be made to all, including those in the ministry.  Churches should not allow staff members to work alone with a person of the opposite sex in a closed room, even a secretary.  At a very minimum the door must contain a window that allows others to see what is going on in the room.
          In a similar manner, a person should never provide transportation alone for a member of the opposite sex.  Leaders of children should never be alone with a child and should never ever go to the bathroom with them.  One's actions may be a result of sincere caring and wanting to help, but they are dangerous and should never happen.
          I often have wondered what I would do, if after 39 years of teaching, with a good reputation, some former student would make up a story about me from 35 years ago and then make a public accusation against me.  What would I do?  What could I do?  Would my denials be adequate?  Probably not.
          What a sad weapon is there for a person to get back at somebody who may have offended them in the past or is of the opposite political opinion.
          Now I don't know what will happen to Judge Kavanaugh.  Hopefully he is innocent and will be approved.  But, in my mind, the circumstances are really questionable.  Why would Senator Finestein hold on to this information for months despite many public and private interviews with him?  Why was this accusation of an event from high school, decades ago, now coming out just before the final committee vote, especially from a party that has tried everything, including violation of senate rules, to delay and block his vote.  Have liberal politics really sunk to that level?  I fear they have. I certainly hope not, but one must wonder.  I guess all we can do is wait and see and pray that the truth will be done, whatever it may be. It is a very crucial time in the history of our country.
          So  "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."  1 Peter 5:8.  And pray!

1.   A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

2.    Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

3.    And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

4.     That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
    

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Secret Service


          "In the secret service of prayer, what a wonderful privilege to share. There to earnestly plead, for a world intercede, in the secret service of prayer."  This is a chorus to a song written by John Peterson in 1960.  It is the first duet that my wife, then my fiancĂ©, ever sang publicly.

          While this song never became very popular, it still has a very profound message.  One of the greatest ministries that a believer can have is that of intercessor, bringing the needs of others to the Lord.  If done faithfully, it can be a challenging and rewarding ministry   It is a secret one, generally not shared publicly, but done in private.  It can be a powerful ministry with amazing results.
          Over the years I have been very fortunate to have some amazing prayer partners with whom I could share my needs and concerns knowing that they would faithfully intercede for me.  Most of them are now in heaven.  But I still have a few with whom I share, knowing that they will pray.
          Fortunate is the person who has someone who will intercede for him.
          Now in Galatians 6:2 we are encouraged to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  But even though we have this command, it is often hard to do this faithfully.  Sometimes we are just too busy.  Sometimes we are forgetful. Sometimes we might not have enough faith. Sometimes we might even question the value of prayer.  And maybe sometimes we just don't really care enough about the other person's need.
          I think personal intercession might even be more important now than ever.  Many churches no longer have prayer meetings.  There are times in my life when we had as many as two prayer meetings each week. But, no more. Now we are too busy for that.  Fortunately many churches now have small groups where sharing and prayer are still important. 
          For almost 50 years my wife and I have administered prayer chains in our church.  Originally the chains were phone chains.  Now out chains are done by e-mail.  Within minutes we can share a request with about 95 different e-mail addresses.  And we work hard to keep it a prayer chain and not a gossip chain.  Do all of them pray for the requests?  I hope so, but that is really between them and the Lord.
          I think an important part of being an intercessor is being a prayer warrior.  Too many people just use the phrase "I'm praying for you" as an excuse to end a conversation or to sound spiritual.  Being a true intercessor means following through, not just once, but as often as needed.  It also means following up to see how the Lord is answering.  Saying that you are praying and then never following up makes your promises questionable at best.  I've had folks tell me that they would pray for a need that I had and then they never came back to ask how I was doing.  Did they really pray for me?  Did they really care?  I guess only the Lord knows that answer.
          Is there a need for intercessors today?  You are very shortsighted if you don't answer this with a definite "yes".  I am continually amazed at the needs, of all kinds, that folks have today.  Here are a few of the things I am presently praying for - two believers who have had strokes, a couple needing nursing care, a couple having trouble meeting their needs at home, people who need jobs, a person facing surgery, folks with cancer, a person with several possible serious physical needs, a missionary new to the field, several widows who are struggling, several friends who don't know the Lord, some wayward children.  And these are in addition to personal requests such as those for my children and grandchildren.  Also those for our country and government and our church and its ministries.  And the needs go on and on.  And they can get so heavy.  But we are called to be faithful intercessors, bearing the needs of those around us. no matter how difficult or impossible they may be.
          What a challenge.  Think about your responsibility as a believer and vow to be more faithful about this ministry - the secret service of prayer. What an honor and privilege to do this.

I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.
Refrain:
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles,
He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
If I but ask Him He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.

Tempted and tried I need a great Savior,
One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus:
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

What must I do when worldliness calls me?
What must I do when tempted to sin?
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the vict'ry to win.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Storms


          My heart goes out to those unfortunate folks whose lives are changed by natural disasters such as ... hurricanes ... tornados .... cyclones ... earthquakes ... explosions ...fires ... floods ... volcanos ... snowstorms.   It must be such a helpless and hopeless experience to face these disasters.

          I thank the Lord that we here in Lancaster County have generally been free from many of these tragic events.  However we have lived through some of them.  Earthquakes have hit here over the years, but fortunately they have all been minor - so far.  We have had tornados, some destructive.  We've had several within a few miles of our house.  In the last couple of years we have had two major gas explosions, both within a few blocks of our home.  They both caused major destruction.
          Hurricanes and tropical storms have often caused major destruction locally. In 1972 Hurricane Agnes stalled over us and dumped about 9 inches of rain throughout the day. Bridges were swept away.  Homes were flooded.  River rescues were made.  Because of the unfortunate way our house was built, we have always had water problems.  We do have a sump pump which helps - when we have electricity.  But during Agnes we were forced to bail water by the bucket full until power was restored.  Wet basement but not the destruction that others had.
          More recently, in 2015, Tropical Storm Lee visited us and dumped 8 to 15 inches in the area. mostly throughout the night  Then during the night our power went out.  So for hours my wife and I  took turns emptying buckets of water out of our sump pump pit until finally power was restored about daybreak.  It was a long but not an exciting night.
         Then a few months ago a surprise storm settled right over us and dumped about 5 inches of rain in a very short time.  Folks living just a few miles from us received nothing.  Some local bridges were washed out. This time water came in the west side of our basement where we have no pump.  That was very unusual and there was nothing we could do about it.  Fortunately, nothing important was ruined.  Over several days we used a wet vac and numerous fans to clean and dry it up.  That event was a real surprise.  I don't need surprises like that.
          Then Friday a week ago, they were predicting rain, but nothing very serious.  About 2 pm I was watching a program on television when they broke in with urgent news.  Heavy rain was falling a few miles from us and major highways were shut down due to flooding. I had never heard of this happening here before.  By then we were also getting some very heavy rain and other areas were getting more.  Many back roads were also closing and there was major flooding in the Mt Joy, Manheim and Lititz areas.
          As it turns out, about 8 to 12 inches fell, and unlike Agnes, this happened in just two to three hours.  Agnes was most of the day. The television began to show pictures of flooding, damage and rescues.  One showed a woman being rescued from her flooded car in front of a well known restaurant in Mt. Joy on the main street.  That street looked like a river as the water kept rising.  Others showed folks sadly looking on as their mobile homes and houses began to flood.  It was unbelievable to watch.
           We were safe at home with power to allow the pump to keep the two inches we received under control.  But we were concerned about our family members.  Our oldest son had to drive home from Baltimore.  He said the rain was brutal.  Our youngest son had to make two trips to Messiah College to move his daughter into her dorm.  He also drove through terrible rain and then had to make alternate plans to get home that evening when many of the major roads were flooded.   
         My middle son and grandson went grocery shopping and had no trouble going.  But when they tried to return they faced terrible traffic and found most of the north/south streets in Lititz were now closed due to flooding.  They finally found one street that they could still get through to get home.  It closed minutes later.  They live on a hill north of town but they found their street to be a river.  Their youngest son had to come home from Lebanon Valley after his afternoon classes and everywhere he went, roads were closed.   Finally he was able to go east to reach Schaefferstown and then he came south on 501.  He normally travels 322 but that was closed because a major bridge had washed out. and the road had buckled.  He had to take a longer route each day to and from college until the road and bridge were rebuilt.  Fortunately their oldest son had come home from Penn State before the storm hit.
         But, thank the Lord, all of our family was safe and none of us had any major damage.
          One of the things that has changed cover the years is all the coverage of storms.  Now we can sit at our tv or computer and watch the storms approach on radar. We can hear the predictions and watch the changes. II guess that in one way that is good, but I must admit that at times it is hard on my nerves to sit and watch the storms, especially when there are tornado and severe storm warnings being shown in our area.  It is so sad when you hope they suddenly move in another direction to spare you and probably affect somebody else ... I guess not a Christian response.  And we probably don't think to pray for those who will be affected.
          But these weather storms are much like the storms of life.  They are unpredictable, difficult to live with, and at times quite scary.  But with the storms of life we can put our trust in the One who controls them, knowing that our lives are really in His hands.

The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
Refrain:
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
We'll never leave our safe Retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Mighty Susquehanna



        The mighty Susquehanna River flows through the middle of Pennsylvania where it has had a major impact over the years.  It is 464 miles long and is the longest river on the East Coast of the United States that runs into the Atlantic Ocean. It drains 27,500 square miles including nearly half of the land area of Pennsylvania.
         The river is important to the area for many reasons including the impact of numerous dams in the southern portion which provide electricity to many portions of the area.  It also attracts boaters for kayaking, canoeing and motor-boating.  It attracts many who come to fish or watch for migratory species.  It is a major source of recreation for tourists and residents.
         But it also has many disadvantages, problems and dangers.  Flooding and ice jams are often a major problem and can be very dangerous and costly in property damage and death.  
           Before they built walls to protect Sunbury, the North and West branches which converge there were a major source of flooding.  My parents lived through one of the worst ones and told stories of the destruction and horrendous cleanup from the flooding.  Today the walls protect that town, but others aren't always as fortunate.
          The river is also the source of numerous drownings every year. Rescue attempts are often part of the area news. My cousin Steve died there during his senior year in high school when he tried to swim across the river and couldn't make it.  He was an outstanding athlete but not equal to the swift currents and depths of the river.
          Today 200 bridges cross the Susquehanna from north to south, but many years ago crossing the river was a major undertaking.  Twice my grandfather moved his family across the river from Herndon by using rafts.  My mother-in-law's family also used rafts to move from Snyder County to Northumberland County.  Unfortunately I didn't learn of these events until just a few years ago when it was no longer possible to learn any of the details about these dangerous moves.
          When I was a student at Susquehanna and Bucknell I regularly used the bridge between Shamokin Dam and Sunbury.  In those years it was a narrow two-lane bridge that posed a challenge when it was snowy or foggy.  When we were dating, my future wife would often need to speed across this bridge at night to get home and beat her curfew after having taken me back to my college dorm.
          Years later they built a wide modern bridge to replace the old one.  Now traffic can move freely from shore to shore.  It also provides good views of the river, dam, recreation areas and, unfortunately, the wall which now surrounds the town.
          Unfortunately I know very little about the history of the many bridges in that area.  But I recently came upon some interesting information which might explain why my family members used rafts to move their items across the Susquehanna  I found a poster that announced The Sunbury Bridge Company's opening of the bridge from Sunbury to Shamokin Dam on Saturday morning, October 5, 1907.
          Now the interesting information to me was the schedule of tolls that were charged at that time.
One sheep or hog ..... $0.01
One head of cattle .......$0.02
One mule or horse, led or ridden ........... $0.08
Two-wheeled vehicle and one horse ..... $0.09
Two-wheeled vehicle and two horses ... $0.15
Four-wheeled vehicle and one horse .... $0.15
Four-wheeled vehicle and two horses ... $0.22
Four-wheeled vehicle and four horses .... $0.30
Automobile with one seat ...........$0.15
Automobile with two seats ..... $0.25
For each passenger, in addition to the driver or operator , in each vehicle ...$0.02
Bicycle and rider ....... $0.04
Foot passenger ....... $0.03

            So if we had been dating in those times, it would have have cost Dianne $1.04 to pick me up and take back me to Sunbury for a date and then take me back to my dorm later that evening.  But that might not have been too bad.  While I don't know what gas cost in 1907, i do know that gas was just 17 cents a gallon when we were dating.  But in earlier days she might have had some trouble getting across the bridge in time to meet her curfew with all of those cattle, sheep, mules and horses in her way.
          Oh how time marches on and leaves us with interesting memories

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Reunions


          Reunions can be interesting events.  If you were active in your school and class it can be fun to renew friendships with those with whom you spent many hours with years ago.  Of course you should be prepared for changed looks, forgotten names and both sad and happy stories.  And you'll be surprised how much older your friends look when you haven't changed at all.

          My wife has never attended any of her high school reunions because she never felt close to those in her class.  I have attended one of my college reunions and it was very interesting, mostly because members of our basketball team were there and we had spent many hours together during our four years in college.
           I've also attended all of my high school reunions and have generally enjoyed them.  I was class president for my junior and senior years and, as a result, was very involved with the class.  Now I have become just the official "prayer" for the meals.  But that is fine since it gives me a chance to share my faith through my prayer.
          As we've gotten older, members of our class have decided that we should meet more often than the usual 5 and 10 year gatherings.  So for the past three years we have had "birthday celebration" reunions at a location in Lititz.  Usually we have 30-40 show up out of a class which I think graduated about 88 back in 1959.
          This week we celebrated our 77th birthdays with a picnic type gathering in a church in Lititz.  We had planned to meet in the Lititz Springs Park, but recent flooding there forced us to move to the church. We shared memories and food and took pictures. We all seemed older and slower - where have all the years gone?  I actually started a mini-web page for the class (fbfawana.com/1959.html) to share with those who live too far away to come.  Next year is our 60th reunion so we are planning something bigger - and probably more expensive - the first week in June to celebrate.
          But reunions can have some interesting and unexpected outcomes.  Here is a story about one reunion that was shared at our recent gathering.
          At the 60th high school reunion he was a widower and she was a widow.  They had known each other for a number of years, having been high school classmates and having attended class reunions in the past, without fail.
          At this reunion the widower and the widow made a foursome with two other singles.  They had a wonderful evening, their spirits high, with the widower throwing admiring glances across the table ... and the widow smiling coyly back at him.  Finally during one dance, he worked up his courage to ask her, "Will you marry me?"  After about six seconds of careful consideration, she answered, "Yes ... yes!!!"  Needless to say, the evening ended on a happy note for the widower.
          However, the next morning he was troubled.  Did she say yes or did she say no?  He couldn't remember.  Try as he would, he just could not recall.  He went over and over the conversation of the previous evening, but his mind was a blank.  He remembered asking the question, but for the life of him could not recall he response.
          With fear and trepidation, he picked up the phone and called her.  First, he explained that he couldn't remember as well as he used to.  Then he reviewed the past evening.  As he gained a little more courage, he then inquired of her, "When I asked if you would marry me, did you say yes or did you say no?"  
         "Why you silly man", she replied, "I said yes.  Yes I will!  And I mean it with all my heart!"
         The widower was delighted.  He felt his heart skip a beat.  Then she continued.  "And I'm so glad you called, because I couldn't remember who asked me."
         So be very careful as you get older and attend reunions.  Memories can begin to fail and you better guard what you do and say.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

"The Green Thing"


          This article was contributed by a dear friend, Eleanor Ruch.  I don't know who the actual author is, but as an "old guy" I found it very interesting.  I  hope that you too will also enjoy it.


          Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
         The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."
         The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
         The older lady said that she was right, our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.
          Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable, besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scriblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.
          We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator or elevator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right, we didn't have the "green thing" in our day.
           Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right, we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.
           Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house  - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. 
         Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.     We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right, we didn't have the "green thing" back then.
           We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.
          Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
         But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?