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.
On Sunday we made our weekly stop at Wendy's to eat lunch after church. The line at the window was extra long because there was a large group of Penn State students there eating lunch. They were part of the annual effort to raise funds to fight cancer in children. With them was a former staff member of mine, Jackie Miller. Annually she helps house the students as they come to raise funds with their buckets at busy intersections. Jackie was there with her son Alex, a fifth grader, who is a childhood cancer survivor. Actually we see Jackie, Alex, and the PSU students there annually as part of this great statewide effort. It is a legitimate cause and they raise many thousands of dollars each year for a worthy cause. I usually ignore folks who gather at key intersections with their buckets because I always wonder how many are legitimate. I question for example those who say they are raising money to fight hunger - who is getting the money? A few months ago we saw some ladies who were raising money for a "needy child in Lancaster". What child? What is the need? Could it just be a scam - a way to pocket some quick cash? Who really knows what happens to money raised by most of these unidentified groups. But people give. Folks can be scammed so easily. Another example are all the pleas for money that come in the mail. Seniors are especially drawn to these. We had former good hearted neighbors that sent money to every group that made a plea to them. They never knew what was happening to their money. Were the filling someone's pockets? Just last week my wife's widowed step-mother was in a panic over a stack of requests that she had received in the mail. She didn't know how to respond to them - we suggested filing them in the waste can. Now it is good to have a compassionate heart but I will never understand folks who will so readily part with their money without any accountability. They believe whatever they are told. But as long as folks are willing to part with their money there will always be folks who will look for ways to take it. So the question is "to give or not to give"? I prefer to give, but only to causes that I know are legitimate and accountable, such as my church and missionaries that I know. I believe that we will be held accountable for the way we use the money that God has entrusted to us. How are you handling your giving?
There are many things that you tend to forget as you age. For me, one of these is all those mornings for 39 years of getting up every day at 5:45 am. or earlier to go to work. Now I have gotten up at that hour several times since I retired, especially when we had trips to make (or times I couldn't sleep). But this week the experience I'd like to forget is back. For a little over a week we are caring for two of our teenage grandchildren while their parents attend a convention. And that means daily early morning trips to take them to school in an adjoining district. Yes, people are alive at that hour. Another thing I've forgotten is how teens eat. I am reminded of the days, with three sons at home, that we had to try to hide some of the food when we came home from a shopping trip. Even so, they always found it, and it disappeared quickly. I think this week we've only made four trips to the grocery store with a few days yet to go. I've also forgotten about the times of being a chauffeur - to school, practices, games, lessons, youth activities, etc. Of course, we were a quarter of a century younger then. But there are also some things that I do remember and don't want to forget. I have such great memories of visits and vacations with my grandparents. They were special times that influenced my life, times I never want to forget. I was fortunate to have grandparents who cared for me and loved me. I even had the special privilege of spending many weekends staying with my grandparents when I was in college. But those times are now gone forever although the memories and lessons I learned still are part of me. Do I mind the early hours this week? Do I mind the large food bills? Do I mind the constant running around? The answer to these questions is a definite NO. I might be a little tired, but I love it. These are times of making new memories for us and for our grandchildren. I hope that we can have a positive influence on their lives as my grandparents did for me. I hope that they will understand what Grammy and Pop Pop really value in life. I hope that years from now they will look back and remember the times that we spent together - times that passed by so quickly. Both are now teens and visits with grandparents will soon be just fleeting memories. Unfortunately, we can't stop the clock. Life goes on and things change ... things forgotten ... things remembered ... beautiful experiences which God allows us to have.
If you don't get anything else out of this blog, please take heed to this one warning - don't put off until tomorrow the opportunity to learn all that you can about your older loved one's background. Tomorrow might be too late. We never expected 15 years ago that my mother would be gone so quickly as a result of an auto accident. But it happened. Now we realize that we know so little about her life and background and it is now very hard to find much out about this part of her life. Many things are gone forever. For example, we've heard that she missed nearly a year of school when she was an elementary student in Herndon. But nobody knows what physical problem she had. Two of her sisters are still living but their minds appear to have forgotten most details of mother's early years. We did discover an extensive genealogy of her mother's ancestors (Herrolds) so fortunately we can now trace her relatives back over 500 years. But we know little or nothing about these folks except for their names and dates. But this week while going through pictures that my dad has, we discovered a couple of precious pictures of her as a youngster. We never saw these before. These are now prized possessions even though we don't know how old she was when they were taken. I also came upon some pictures of our home in Lititz from years ago when mother had such beautiful flowers. I had forgotten how she loved to garden and how beautiful our yard had been when we were growing up. These pictures have brought back a flood of memories. I've also found old pictures of relatives and times with my grandparents on both sides - good memories. Sometimes you wish that you could roll back the years but you know you can't. So all you can do is hold on to the memories and thank the Lord for those special times and special people in your lives. So don't wait until it is too late to share pictures and stories and memories with your older loved ones. And then prepare them to be passed on to your children. If you need some practical ways to do this, please let me know - this is a topic that I love to share with groups or individuals. Sharing these memories and history has been a special project of mine since I retired. Again, don't wait - tomorrow might be too late.
My friend, Dan Allen, Director of the Pinebrook Bible Conference, has been praying daily for the new president in the 20 days leading up to his inauguration. These prayers have been shared on the radio and by e-mail and we have decided to share all of them here for your prayer support. We have not included the background for each prayer, just the daily prayer itself. So we hope that the prayer will make sense to you.
Hi, I'm Dan Allen reminding Christians that one of our duties, according to 1 Timothy 2 is to pray for our leaders. 0 - "Father, we do thank you for blessing our nation. May we continue to see your hand upon us so that the Gospel will have free course here and abroad. Bless our new President. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 1 - "Lord, Mr. Obama is a younger man placed in an awesome position. Give him wisdom beyond his years. May he receive good guidance. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 2 - "Father, we rejoice this day that our nation, once embattled in a terrible civil war over injustices to a certain segment of our population, has advanced and almost filled the dream of another reformer who called for equality, Dr. Martin Luther King. May our country truly become color blind and may it be the person's character that counts, including Mr. Obama's. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 3 - "Lord, give wisdom to our new President as he makes the tough calls concerning our troops. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 4 - "Lord, agree or not agree we pray for our President that he will makes the right decisions. Give him wisdom beyond his years. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 5 - "Lord, ultimately only you know the spiritual condition of an individual. We pray for Mr. Obama and his family that if they do not know you, they will become saved. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 6 - "Lord, being in the most powerful position in the world can take its toll on even the strongest among us. We pray that Mr. Obama will keep things in balance. Keep him from undo stress. In Jesus' Name, Amen" 7 - "Lord, a team of several thousand working together toward particular goals is almost impossible but can be done. Give much wisdom to our new President and his team in regards to this. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 8 - "Lord, America, to our shame, has murdered a lot of babies since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. With a pro-choice President we could see that number increase. But we pray that he will change his views on this very important life and death decision. In Jesus' Name, Amen" 9 - "Father, we don't fully understand why evils exists, but it is a reality in our world. Give our new President the wisdom to know how to deal with it. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 10 - "Lord, you are the great protector. We pray, in Your will that you will keep our new president safe from harm. Thwart any plans that may bring him injury. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 11- "Lord, You told the children to come to Yourself - for such is the Kingdom of God. May these girls learn about You, become Your children and keep them safe. In Jesus' Name, Amen" 12 - "Lord, it is most difficult for humans to keep their hands out of the cookie jar, but I pray that with our new President he will set, by example, a high level of integrity which will be the envy of the world. In Jesus' Name, Amen." 13 - "Lord, some of the proposed legislation could have a deleterious affect on the Christian witness and the furtherance of the Gospel. We pray that you will give much wisdom to our new President in regard to this and change his mind if need be. In Jesus' Name, Amen" 14 - "Lord, our concern is that Mr. Obama makes the right decisions. They may not be popular to his perceived based, but since the union of the United States is at stake, may he have the courage to do so. 15 - "Lord, we're all tightening our belts right about now. Many are struggling. Although the government is not the answer it can be the vehicle you use to help us thru this. Please give to our new President much wisdom at this time. In Jesus Name, Amen" 16 - "Lord, may church attendance not only be a priority, but may our president be able to take his family. In Jesus' Name, Amen" 17 - "Lord, give to Mr. Obama those who will direct his thoughts toward morally just decisions and keep these religious leaders from falling into the power trap. May they just be spiritual counselors. In Jesus Name, we pray, Amen." 18 - "Lord, may Mr. Obama not only acknowledge Your existence, but seek to submit to You in the governance of this great country. In Jesus Name, Amen. 19 - "Lord, thank you for our new President. We pray for his protection and wise choices during this transition time. In Jesus Name, Amen"
For Pinebrook Bible Conference, I'm Dan Allen wishing you Joy in Jesus.
Some random thoughts on a lazy Saturday afternoon ... it sure was cold last night. Our thermometer read 4.7 when we went to bed - not sure how low it actually went ... tomorrow is my "baby" sister's birthday - she sure looks like our mother. Happy birthday, Kendy ... a few days ago we saw a car with a license plate that said "BikiniGal". Dianne and I both laughed when we passed the car - I guess an 80+ female could be a bikini gal, but it wasn't quite what we expected ... it is sad to see so many seniors buying lottery tickets of all types when we walk at Park City each morning - but then the Democratic bail-out plans don't provide any of the billions to be given away for retired seniors on fixed incomes - maybe I should start buying - not really ... if we are in a recession, why does the tobacco shop at Park City always have so many customers - maybe topped only by the expensive coffee shops? ... nobody asked me, but I'd love to see an Eagles-Steelers Super Bowl. Wouldn't it be neat if they could play it at Beaver Stadium? Oh well, it will probably be the Cardinals and the Ravens - my teams haven't done too well recently ... we had four deer in our yard last week. We haven't had deer here in decades. They may have been lost ... and the blue birds have become regulars at our feeders. Unfortunately, many of the other birds haven't returned ... wasn't that an amazing picture of the survivors standing on the wings of the airplane in the middle of the Hudson River? What a tragedy it would have been to survive the crash then slide off the wing and drown in the Hudson River! ... yesterday I met a high school classmate of mine who had owned a Dodge dealership until a year ago. Every car I ever bought I bought from him. Unexpectedly he received an offer to sell and he surprised everyone by doing so. How fortunate was his timing - I wouldn't want to own such a dealership today ... I already miss college football - next September seems so far away ... We've begun our annual adopt-a-club campaign to raise $3,360 to support our 14 adopted Awana clubs. We are using our puppets again to generate interest and it is really special to work with our three boys and some of our grandchildren. They are so good and so creative. It also brings back great memories of our 26+ years of our family ministry ... we've enjoyed watching the Farm Show on TV this week. I'm glad that we weren't part of the crowd that had to wait yesterday outside in the bitter cold for over an hour for a shuttle bus. We didn't experience their great food, but we were much warmer and more comfortable at home in our easy chairs ... I'm also glad that I'm not in the mountains at Pinebrook this weekend. Some of our grandkids are there with our youth for Sno-Glo. Burr! But I guess when I was half a century younger, the weather wouldn't have bothered me either! ... then there is the most recent research that shows that five out of every four students have trouble with fractions ... I've also been wondering why a person who handles your money is called a "broker". Thanks for stopping by - keep warm!
A few years ago a change in the law made it mandatory for school districts in the state to hold a referendum if their proposed budget increase was over a certain percentage. Taxpayers applauded this new requirement but school boards worried about how this could eliminate future expenditures for major needs. Nobody will ever vote for a tax increase. Until this week no referendums have been needed in the state. But this week the a local school district had to go to the voters for money for a much needed new high school building and improvements to aging elementary buildings. I have no personal attachment to this district but since it is a neighboring school I have watched with interest their boards operate for a number of years. The boards have generally been ultraconservative and to keep taxes at a bare minimum they have continually eliminated many requests not only for expansion of programs and staff but more importantly for future care and expansion of their buildings. Now this history has caught up to them and some buildings are outdated and in need of costly repair and their classrooms are overcrowded. The projected need to correct this situation is $114 million. Wow! And the taxpayers, as expected, turned it down by a 2-1 vote. It was interesting that the opposition to the proposal was actually led by some former school directors whose past decisions contributed to this problem. So, by law, the taxpayers had their say. Now what do they do? I guess they go back to the drawing board and find a cheaper plan to get by. Their high school is over 50 years old - not equipped for today's modern technology or needs. They are using 18 portable classrooms and will probably need more. Some buildings are really in need of repair It is interesting that the night of the referendum the heating system in one of the elementary buildings went bad. They have not been able to hold school in that building for the past three days. That is some indication of the situation. Well I am glad that I am not a teacher there - I would be looking for a job elsewhere. I am glad that I am not a parent there - I would be looking to move or to put my child in a private school. I am glad that I am not a home owner there - who would want to buy my home n this district and what will happen to property values? I am glad that I am not a resident there - there is much disunity and anger in what was a nice, quiet community. It is a district without many of the problems of city schools, but its political and economic problems are considerable. I will continue to watch with interest the developments there. Is the referendum law good? I guess it depends on which side of the issue you stand or if you have school directors who are progressive enough to plan and budget carefully for future needs rather than always cut everything new. Saving money is good. But, it often just delays the inevitable and then you must pay the price or live with the consequences. This may not be your district, but please understand, a referendum might soon be coming to you.
I need some variety and humor in my blog, so I am sharing something I found this week. Why did the chicken cross the road? BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change! JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road. HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me. GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either against us or for us. There is no middle ground here. DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun? COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road. BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken? AL GORE: I invented the chicken. JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now and will remain against it. DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken doesn't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems. OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens. NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks. PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American. DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told. BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road. BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken 2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken 2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash or need to be rebooted. ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken? COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one? ..... So now you know the truth about the chicken.
One of the signs that you are getting old might be that you love to watch the birds - maybe it's just that when you are retired you have the time to do this Several years ago we added a number of bird feeders and over the years we have enjoyed watching a wide variety of birds come for their feeding. There have been so many different types that we've lost track of all that we've observed. I've especially enjoyed the woodpeckers and the cardinals. But a few months ago things changed. Suddenly we had very few birds visiting us anymore. It was frustrating. Maybe the hawks discovered our feeding site. Maybe our neighbor's new feeder was more attractive. Maybe our food and suet was not good enough. We don't know why, but suddenly we had very few birds. Last week I went out and bought more expensive food - wow does that get to be expensive! But it didn't seem to make a difference. Then yesterday afternoon I was taken back when I passed our kitchen window and saw a special sight - three beautiful bluebirds were eating our suet. As I called Dianne to watch, dozens of birds, of various varieties, filled our feeders and our tree. It was such a special surprise and we watched for about 30 minutes. Did the threat of bad weather bring them back? I really have no answer. Then, suddenly, they all disappeared again. Was there a hawk nearby? Will they return? I don't know, but I certainly hope they come back today. It is so amazing to watch this beautiful part of God's creation - so many different shapes and colors. Every time I watch them I am thankful for God's creation but I also think about how God cares for each of them. And if His eye is even on the little sparrow, then certainly He can care for us. So despite family challenges and a deepening recession, why should I worry. He is God and He cares for each of us. He will provide what we need, when we need it. So take time to watch the birds - not only is that relaxing, but it should provide you with a daily reminder that all of us need - God does care for us.
Yesterday I saved several hundred dollars - at least I think I did. I had an automatic delivery of heating oil - 139 gallons, about 30 gallons less than we usually get at this time of the year. I guess our conservation, or living in frigid temperatures, has made a difference. Now if my hands thaw out I can write a check to pay for the delivery. Actually, I am not really telling the whole story. You may remember how I originally locked in at $5.20 per gallon last August. Then, after pushing the issue with my dealer, I was able to get a better price of $4.74. My last delivery at that price cost me $791.77. But then a few weeks ago, when I heard how low prices had dropped, I decided to exercise a clause in my contract which allowed me to break the contract for a fee of $599. I figured that I could still save $500 to $1000 during 2009 by doing that. Well, yesterday I had my first delivery on my new contract and my bill was $330.21 which is a savings of $328.65 over my previous contract price. So I only need to save $270 more to break even. And actually it is a savings of almost $400 over my first contract price. So, thank the Lord, my heating bills won't be nearly as bad as I had expected. And I am really even saving more since I wrote a very kind letter to the manager of my heating company in which I admitted that the choice had been mine. I did kindly suggest some alternative approaches that they could consider for the next heating season. After receiving the letter they contacted me and were actually appreciative of my letter - they apparently have been receiving many calls and letters that haven't been very kind. They told me that they couldn't legally waive the buy-out fee, but they helped me renegotiate a contract and actually provided a few other very nice concessions. So the moral of the story is that it can be good to make contacts with a company over such issues. Don't assume that nothing can be done. But it should be done in a positive way - the way that you would hope that a Christian might react. Sometimes kind words can make a difference. So maybe I can now turn up my thermostat and let my fingers thaw out.
Best wishes for a year filled with God's richest blessings. May He be your strength, comfort, and guide during the days ahead. "From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him." Psalm 103:17
Former teacher/administrator (39 years) in public schools. Awana Commander (30 years). Financial secretary at church. Judge of elections locally. Married for 50 years. Father of three sons and grandfather of seven. Fan of Penn State football.