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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Life Is Hard ...

Life is hard ... especially as you age.  Two weeks ago my father-in-law was doing remarkably well.  He was looking forward to celebrating his 96th birthday with us on Thanksgiving Day.  In fact, he planned to drive the two hours to come to our house.  He looked and acted like a senior of about 75 years old and had the mind of one who was 55.  Then, while on a routine doctor visit, the doctor sent him to the hospital with dehydration.  During the four days in the hospital he looked better than he had in years.  But a week after being released he was taken to Geisinger Hospital by ambulance with breathing problems.  After consultation with the medical staff it was decided that he would need to be entered in a nursing home and his driving days were ended.  So after spending his birthday in the hospital he was taken Friday to a nursing home in Selinsgrove.  Even though we knew this would happen someday, it is still so hard to watch his life change so dramatically so quickly.  He is being cared for and that is a major relief to us.  And while it has been stressful for us, it is obvious that the Lord has answered many prayers for us during these weeks.  We are very concerned about his wife who is living alone.  We are not sure if she can take care of herself and we have many arrangements still to make to be sure that we can pay their bills. But God is faithful and somehow these problems will be resolved.   In Psalm 71 the Psalmist prays for help in old age.  He cries out "Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth."  Later he says "When I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation and thy power to every one that is to come."  Gramps is still sharing the Gospel to everybody he meets - showing God's strength and His power and God is not casting him off but preparing a new home for him.   Life is hard ... but God is good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

In Ephesians we are told to give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things.  At this time of the year we normally do shift our focus to giving thanks ... but not always for all things.  We have so many blessings that when we go to count them we never reach the end.  But there are those other things - often called problems - that we find hard to thank the Lord for.  We are going through a very difficult time right now with numerous family physical problems.  At times they do lead to sleepless nights and discouragement.  And yet these are part of the ALL things.  As I thought about it, I came up with a list of such things.  (1)  For years I suffered with a variety of troubling physical problems that doctors weren't able to solve.  Then a few months ago we decided to change a diabetes drug that I had taken for years.  And, amazingly, many of my problems seemed to clear up.  If that hadn't happened, I would have had major problems in dealing with some of our current challenges. PTL. (2)  Even though they are facing difficult physical problems, I have been blest with a father and father-in-law who are special godly men.  They have been inspirations and tremendous examples to me and my family.  I hate to see them suffer, but I thank the Lord for their 187 years of life.  PTL.   (3)  It is hard to break from family traditions - such as Thanksgiving dinner at our home.  But I thank God for family members who recognize the problems and develop alternatives.  I am blest.  PTL.  (4) We've discovered a bad case of mold in one of our walls and this will require a very costly correction.   I haven't yet seen how the Lord will work this out, but I know He will.  PTL.  (5)  The drop in gas prices has been an amazing blessing.  Our almost daily trips to Lititz, Sunbury, and now Danville would have killed our budget a few months ago.  But yesterday I was able to fill up at $1.85.  PTL.  Then there is my fuel contract - I received 166 gallons yesterday, at about $800!  That is just the beginning.  But, the scripture says ALL things, so PTL.  (6) God is even in the little details - with recent events we forgot to order pies for the family.  A quick trip to the bakery, hoping to still be able to get three pies, found - they had exactly - three pies left.  Seems like a small problem - but when you are in a time of stress, it becomes a major answer to prayer.  PTL. (7)  We have some major responsibilities on our schedule for the next few weeks and our present challenges may force us to cancel these.   Again, I don't know how the Lord will work these things out, but I thank Him, in advance, for doing so.   PTL.  And I could bore you with so many other small details that are answers to our prayers.  But to us, these are all evidences of God's presence in our daily lives, in the good times and the bad times.  So, thank you Lord for meeting our needs in ALL things.  God is good.  Have a thankful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

But God

Years ago I had a small book entitled "BUT GOD". It was a very inspirational book. This week when I really wanted and needed to reread it I found that it is now missing. Isn't that the way things often go? The Bible includes numerous "BUT GOD" experiences. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers, "you thought evil against me, BUT GOD meant it for good." In Genesis 48:21, Israel told Joseph, "behold I die. BUT GOD shall be with you". When Pharaoh changed his mind and began to pursue the Israelites, in Exodus 13:18, it is written "BUT GOD led the people about". In I Samuel 23:14 Saul sought David every day, "BUT GOD delivered him not into his hand". In Psalm 73:26 David cries out "my flesh and my heart faileth; BUT GOD is the strength of my heart". In Acts 13:19 - 30, it says that they took Jesus down from the cross and laid him in a sepulchre, "BUT GOD raised Him from the dead". "BUT GOD" incidents are God's interventions in impossible situations. The Bible is filled with them and hopefully our lives are, too - His intervention in our lives, in His time. Honestly, with the pressures we are facing personally right now, I'm praying and looking for another "BUT GOD" experience.  And, I know He will intervene - in His time, not mine. Maybe you, too, are facing difficult, seemingly impossible situations right now. Trust a loving Father who will intervene with strength, wisdom, and peace when He knows that His children need help. Things may seem impossible or overwhelming, BUT GOD ...  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Future of Democracy

Democracy "is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." In the phrase of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."  I've always assumed that our great democracy would always continue and I hope that it does.  However, recently I have begun to have my doubts about whether it will survive.  First there is the recent trend toward the establishment of laws by the judicial branch.  Liberal judges have begun to overturn the will of the majority and establish precedents and laws and this was not the intent of our Constitution. This will increase as more liberal judges are appointed by the new administration.  Then there is the corruption in government, especially in Washington, where elected officials have used their status to pad their pockets as well as those of their supporters.  Few appear to be patriots who put our country first.  Then there is the growing trend toward mob rule.  Look at what is happening in California with the passage of Proposition 8, a legal constitutional amendment which outlaws gay marriages in that state.  The gay activists have been orchestrating protests throughout the country over its approval by the majority of voters.  Now that is their right in a democracy,  But, they have picketed churches, especially those of the Morman faith, and they have actually been disrupting church services.  They are threatening those who supported Proposition 8.  A director of an Arts Association who had donated his money in support of the amendment had to resign since the mobs threatened to boycott the association which he had directed for many years.  They have already filed three lawsuits to reverse this constitutional amendment which was voted upon by a majority of California voters.  And, they have a good chance of winning with a liberal justice system.  They don't intend to accept the legal voice of the majority.  There had also been rumors and threats of protests and maybe even riots if Obama had lost.  A democracy can't survive when mob mentality takes over.  We have seen this type of thing happen around elections in other parts of the world, but, sadly, it is a new development here.  Democracy has survived over 200 years here because of good people.  Many were godly people, others were folks with good morality and a sense of right values.  But things are changing rapidly.  What is the future of our democracy?   Time will tell.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things That Bother Me

All of us have our pet peeves - those things that bother us. I've referred to a few of mine before, but here are some that are current in my experiences ... (1)  folks who drive while talking on their cell phones, especially turning the corner with one hand while talking and laughing, or driving against my bumper while chatting away ... (2)  folks who greet you with "How are you?" and then keep walking.  It is just a greeting and they don't really want to know.  This morning in church I would have welcomed the chance to share how I was feeling with somebody who was interested, but although the question was asked several times, nobody waited for a reply ... (3)  folks who can't say "thank you" when you do something for them.  We live in a thankless society with folks who have no manners (by the way, thanks for dropping by to read my blogs) ... (4)  young folks who wear there pants so low that you see their underwear.  We stopped to eat at Wendy's today and a girl and a boy in their twenties (notice I didn't call them lady and gentleman) paraded around with pants that appeared ready to drop to the floor.  It didn't do too much for our appetites ... (5)  maybe I should say modern dress in general.  I had to turn my eyes away several times this morning while I was sitting in the church narthex as numerous ladies walked by with their short skirts and low necklines.  It is embarrassing to see this anywhere, but especially in church ... (6)  then there are the pet peeves that brought on today's blog - the Philadelphia Eagles, or should I say Beagles.  I watched them tie the Bengals today, a team that had a 1-8 record.  They played so poorly that they didn't deserve to be called professional. And Donovan McNabb was terrible but always smiling.  And Andy Reid's coaching was horrendous but he stood on the sideline with a big smile.  Is the game really that funny?  How can you laugh when you play and coach so poorly?  It certainly wasn't funny to their fans. It appeared that they really didn't care. I found myself hoping they'd lose in the overtime, but the Bengals were even more hapless and the game ended in a tie, the first in the NFL since 2002.  It's time for a change in Philadelphia.  I guess we all have our pet peeves and we just need to learn to not to get too excited about them - notice, I didn't say laugh about them like the Beagles did.   What are some of your pet peeves?  You can share yours by leaving a comment here.  I look forward to reading them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is It A Sport?

Last night we had Sports Night in Awana.  As part of the program I wrote a fun song (at least I thought it was fun) based on "Old McDonald Had A Farm".  Mine was called "We All Have A Favorite Sport" and featured five sports - baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and hockey.  It included things like "with a hit hit here, and a hit hit there, here a hit, there a hit, everywhere a hit hit".   Afterwards a young lad came to me and said that I should have included NASCAR.  I smiled and thanked him.  Then today when I sent an update to our Awana staff I mentioned that I could have included NASCAR, with "a crash crash here and a crash crash there".  But, to me NASCAR still isn't a sport.  Well I now know that somebody reads what I write because it wasn't long until the NASCAR fans responded.  I was told how exciting this "sport" really is, how every track is different with its own challenge, how athletic and in shape the drivers must be, and how athletic and trained the pit crews really are.  I guess I can't argue with that, but does that really make it a sport?  My response was that it is much less expensive to watch the young drivers race up and down my street at excessive speeds or to drive on route 222 and watch folks zoom by me like they are on a racetrack.  Now that irritates me but doesn't excite me. And i can do that without all the smells and fumes that are part of racing.  Then there are my mechanics who work on my cars - most of them are excellent but they just don't work as fast - probably because they are making money on me by charging me by the hour.  And I don't find that to be a sport, just an expensive necessity.  What do you think?  You can express your opinion in the poll to the right.  It will be open for votes until November 30 at midnight.   However, in the meantime, despite my feelings that it isn't really a sport, I will probably need to concede the point since I have just checked out the expert, Webster's Dictionary.   "Sport - a source of diversion, physical activity engaged in for pleasure."  I guess that settles it.  So, the next time I physically drive my car for the pleasure of doing so (or the diversion of wasting gas), I can appropriately say that I am participating in a sport.  Now that this is settled, off to route 222! 

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Famous Cousin

Last week we received an invitation from my cousin, Thomas Wise, to attend a showing of his art work at the Lancaster County Art Association in Strasburg.  It turns out that some of his work is being exhibited there from November 9 to 30 in the Kauffman Gallery (no relation unfortunately).  Now I am not really into art but since it was my cousin we decided that we should visit on Sunday afternoon.  Tom lives in the mountains near Halifax and most of his watercolors and oil paintings are based upon familiar objects and scenes from that area.  Tom and his late wife Cheryl had lived in Millersville for a few years before moving to Halifax.  I didn't realize that he was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania School of Art (Pennsylvania School of Art and Design) and was the first Dean of Administration at the institution.  Prior to that he taught at the York Academy of Art.   It is interesting that a number of my family members have been involved in some aspect of education.  Now he spends all of his time painting and selling as a professional artist.  He often has about eight paintings in progress at one time.  His display at Strasburg is being shared by one of his former students and the exhibit is called 30+ because she was his student 30 years ago.  Now I must tell you, I was really impressed by his work - it is beautiful. His still lifes are excellent but his scenes are really spectacular.  I would love to have some of his work in our home, but the 18 he has displayed run from $650 to $3,800 with most of them over $2,000. Incidentally, the one shown here goes for $2,800.  Unfortunately they are a little out of my price range.  But it is still great to see one of my cousins so successful in a profession like this.  I would invite you to drop by sometime this month - 149 Precision Ave. in Strasburg, 637-7061.  The exhibit is free.  And make sure that when you sign the guest book you note that you are a friend of mine (maybe the brownie points will help me).  He also has exhibits in York and Lewisburg this month.  I admire somebody who can paint like Tom - I certainly can't.  But maybe someday I'll become a famous blogger ... and sell my blogs for .... not!   

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Only A Game

This past week was a week of disappointments - three of them in particular.  The first, and least important, happened yesterday when Penn State had its perfect season and national title hopes dashed with a last second field goal.  I thought that this might be the game that would crush their hopes, and, unfortunately, I was right.  Now I am an avid Penn State fan and I imagine that many folks will have much to say to rib me in church today, but I can take it.  Remember, it's only a game.  Life goes on - that's just part of sports.  And at least the Phillies won this year.  My second disappointment was the election and the direction our country has chosen to go.  That is much more serious than the game, but I also know that God is in control and that is the important thing.  The third disappointment came when a 48 year old friend of ours died of a heart attack this week leaving a wife and two daughters.  Lamar grew up in our church and we have known him and his family since he was a young child.  We often don't understand God's ways, but again, we rest in the knowledge that God is in control of all things and that Lamar is now in His presence.  Disappointments are common in our daily walk and they have often been the inspiration for the writing of hymns.  We have led several hymn sings at Pinebrook based just on hymns that came from times of grief, despair, and disappointment.  I have started a new hymn blog and I add another hymn each Wednesday.  If you haven't visited it yet, please go to HYMNS each week and maybe you, too, will be comforted by the words of these old hymns.  So life goes on, and for you Penn State fans, just remember, it's only a game. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Wish You A ...

While Fall is my favorite season of the year, Christmas is my favorite holiday season.  My problem with the Christmas holiday season is that it starts too early and then ends too early.  Well, even though there are still 47 days until Christmas, the holiday season has already begun.  About three weeks ago our local hardware store put up their Christmas trees and began to sell related items.  Yesterday we learned that the seasonal music channel on our cable has begun to play Christmas music (or as they say, "holiday music").   This week the Christmas decorations have appeared at Park City and I guess it won't be long until we will hear the "holiday music" about Santa and Rudolph.  And of course, the day after Christmas the music will disappear at the malls and on most radio stations (WDAC will play some through December 31).  But what about Thanksgiving?  I know it is late this year, but it too should be a special holiday.   Unfortunately in this country we don't really have a need anymore to take time to thank God for His blessings. We can do it all ourselves.  We don't really need God.   Hmm, I wonder what a deep recession or depression might do to our self-dependence.  Oh well, the government will take care of us.  And I guess Thanksgiving doesn't bring in the money that Christmas does and that is really what Christmas is all about.   And, merchants are really desperate this year.  And talking about pilgrims and Indians - sorry, I mean native Americans - probably isn't politically correct anyway.  We've sure come a long way in this country - unfortunately the trip has been basically down hill.  Well in our home we plan to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas and try to honor our God who is the basis of both holidays.  While we may begin later this month to also think about Christmas - like doing some shopping, starting some decorations and addressing cards - our thoughts will be on giving God thanks.  So ...  We wish you ... a happy Thanksgiving.  Then we'll sport our special pins that say, "It's OK to wish me a Merry Christmas".  Then and only then our song will change and we'll be willing to sing to you ...  We wish you ... a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

It's the day after the big election and I have three reactions.  (1) I am disappointed.  As expected, the candidates I wanted actually lost and I admit that I am concerned about the future of our great country.  But, guess what?  The sun still came up this morning.  God is still in control.  He knew what would happen and He knows what the future holds.  Put your faith in a man and you will be disappointed and let down.  Put your trust in Christ and He is faithful.   (2) I am exhausted.  Yesterday was very exhausting.  We put in 16 hours of hard work conducting the election.  We had folks in line when I arrived at 5:50.  When we opened at 7:00 the line stretched around the building and I couldn't see the end.  We processed hundreds of folks in the first few hours.  For the day, we had over 1,400 voters, plus enough absentee ballots to bring us to about 1,500 which is close to 80% of our precinct or about 150% of our previous high vote.  We could now use some rest!  (3) I am amused.  Observing human reactions and human nature is frustrating if you take it too seriously, and amusing if you just stop and enjoy it.  We had folks upset when we didn't open the polls at 6 a.m.  We had folks upset when they arrived after 8 p.m. and couldn't vote.  The legal hours for voting have always been 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. - but who bothers with that.  We had folks registered in Leola and in Reading who thought they could just drop by and vote with us.  I prepared all sorts of direction signs but folks ignored them.  We continually had folks come in the door marked exit ignoring the ones marked enter here.  I even added more arrows to direct them better ... they still came in the wrong way.  I did it a third time and when that didn't work I just gave up and laughed.  We had folks who couldn't get in the correct line, A to N or O to Z.  Many failed to stop at the signs which essentially said, "line begins here, wait until you are called".  And then there were the signs, "please turn off all cell phones".   And we had folks talking on phones while registering and phones ringing while folks were in the privacy booths.  Some ignored directions and tried to register at the poll watchers' table. And, of course, there were folks who didn't know what to do even though they had passed at least four signs which explained the process used in the past four elections.  On the positive side, we only had 12 voters who messed up their ballots by not following instructions and only a few who ignored our escan instructions and tried to ram their ballot through the scanner before the receipt was torn off.  Such action can jam the scanner which forces folks to wait in line until we can open it, clear it, and reset it.  One has to wonder how many folks actually function in life and how they can make intelligent, informed decisions, including who to elect as president.  They sure have trouble following entrance signs .... with multiple arrows added.  Well, time to enjoy the sun which has risen again today .... or maybe take a nap. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Election Inside Scoop

In 2005 I fell for it.  A member of the Republican party stopped by and asked if I would consider replacing an older but ill friend who had served as Judge of Elections for many years.  They told me there wasn't much to it, so I said yes.  I was retired and could do this community service.   Then I found out that it meant getting a petition signed, running for election, recruiting a team of workers, and hours of training and work.  Then they surprised me with a switch in location and after learning how to operate the voting machines, they adopted a whole new system - more training and more work.  But eight elections later I am still doing it - with another new location to break in this year.  Right now I am taking a break in preparation to try to maintain my sanity.  This time it has meant hours of work to find and arrange for the new voting location.  I've spent weeks delivering signs to notify folks of the change and weeks printing out signs for tomorrow and scheduling workers. We've been to two hours of training.  I've worked this whole weekend preparing the books and forms and then today I've been at the location for almost seven hours setting things up.  Tomorrow it will be about 16 hours of nonstop work, handling a multitude of problems and probably complaints.  The best part is that I now have a very good, experienced team that will work with me tomorrow.  And we will have plenty - actually too much - good food, if we have time to eat it.  Tomorrow, among other things, I will file reports in envelopes lettered from A to Z.  I will handle provisional ballots, absentee ballots, affirmation forms, spoiled ballots, canceled JBC forms, forms for assistance in voting, payroll forms, verification and identification of voters, zero tapes, tally tapes, write-in tapes, pole watchers, final result forms, and swear in (not at) my precinct board.   And after we pack up the escans, the eslates, the 18 privacy booths, the tables, the chairs, the signs and all sorts of other items, we'll justify the results and post them on the door.  Then I'll carry all the ballots, reports, forms and computer tapes to the other side of Lancaster.  Now that is the inside scoop of what goes on and I haven't really even talked about all the forms involved - government regulations are unbelievable.   I never had any comprehension of all that was involved.  Then a few weeks from now I'll get my reward - $5 for attending the training session and about $1.50 an hour for all my work.  So you see we don't do it for the money but I guess we do it for our country and for our community.  Thankfully, there are thousands of folks like us  who give of their time - democracy in action.  Enough for now - I have more prep to do yet tonight and hopefully I'll get a few hours of sleep before we get on site at 6 a.m.   Morning will come too quickly and probably more quickly than night will come.  Don't forget to do your part and vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Special Election Edition

This is a special edition of my blog.  I have not used my blog to say anything about the election despite the fact that I really fear the direction our country is moving.  It appears that the victory will be bought by the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate who is strongly pro-choice, an advocate of homosexual rights, big government, redistribution of the wealth, higher taxes and many ultra-liberal causes.  One of my biggest concerns has been his stand for abortion and his plans to remove all restrictions on abortions.  With this in mind, I'd encourage you to stop and watch a very challenging video produced by the Catholic church.  While it doesn't tell who to vote for, it is very thought-provoking and speaks for itself.   Watch it now at http://www.catholicvote.com/  In case you need some clarification, let me just share some comments about Obama on the subject of life.   Obama has said that one of his first items of business will be to pass a Freedom of Choice bill which will remove all limits on abortion which have been set by the states. He has voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Act. Four times he has voted against a law to provide medical help to children born out of failed abortions, especially those with special needs. He supports allowing young girls to have abortions without the knowledge of their parents. Planned Parenthood gives him a 100% rating. He has also publicly said that if one of his daughters got pregnant he would not want her to have to live with her "mistake" - not a human baby, a mistake. He said that deciding when a baby is actually a person is "beyond my pay grade". With that attitude, I believe being President is also above his pay grade and I can not vote for him.  I urge you to VOTE LIFE on Tuesday. 

Photo Captures A Disturbing Trend ...

The photo captures a disturbing trend that is beginning to affect wildlife in the US . Animals that were formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic Party ... as they have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance. This photo is  of a Democrat black bear in Montana nicknamed 'Bearack Obama'.

Vote LIFE and reduction of big government on Tuesday.