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.
Please excuse me if my blog entries seem to center around my father, but right now dad's legacy and estate seem to be the center of all my time and activity. People who didn't know dad thought he was very stern and all business. But they just didn't know dad. One of the folks at church who worked very closely with him was asked by somebody how she could work with him since he was so stern. She broke out laughing and said "You don't really know Horace. He has one of the greatest sense of humor of anybody I have known." How very true. At the memorial service we invited folks to write their memories of dad. It was impressive how so many remarked about his friendliness, genuine concern, and his sense of humor. He always began his Sunday School class with humorous stories. But one of the best written comments came from a woman in our church. Here is what she wrote. "Several years ago I did a talk for our Keenagers on recollections. During the programs on antiques and collectibles, I asked for a show of hands of people who had a collection at home. Several raised their hands and among them was Horace. When I asked when he started his collection and what he collected he replied. 'Well it began shortly after Dolly died and I collect dust!' Needless to say, many of us could relate to that and had a good chuckle!" That was dad's sense of humor and incidentally, he did have an interesting collection and he left it all behind.
Sometimes the Lord provides a little humor just when one needs it. Those of you who are regular readers know my father and my father-in-law both died within the past two months. Both received interesting letters after their deaths. The day after my father died, he received a letter from the Department of Transportation. The form letter said that they were glad to inform him that he qualified to have his driver's license renewed and they wished him years of safe driving. Not bad for being 91. Actually in the month or so before, both his family doctor and eye doctor gave their approval for him to drive. In fact the eye doctor said his eyes were fine and good enough to drive at night! Now my father-in-law's letter was also from a government agency, but it wasn't a form letter. He was taken to task for not showing up for jury duty which is rather hard to do when you are dead. And why would they want someone who was 96? The letter went on to say that he was reassigned to the April court session and that if he didn't show up this time they would send the sheriff to pick him up. We thought about replying that the sheriff should bring his shovel when he comes. Since I doubt that there are driver's licenses or jury duty in heaven, I guess both letters are just good for some humorous relief. Now what if they get letters informing them that they have won the Reader's Digest or Publisher's Sweepstakes? That might be more interesting!
Each Friday I edit the prayer requests from our missionaries and place the summaries on our church prayer chain. It is interesting that some of the missionaries, often the older ones, start with the phrase "Dear Prayer Warriors". And while that might be an old phrase, it is right on. We are in a spiritual battle and we need to be warriors in this battle, warriors in prayer. Prayer is not easy but it is critical. And there are very few believers who are really prayer warriors. It is so easy to say "I'm praying for you" and then forget to do it regularly. Or it is so easy to just pray in general - "Bless the missionaries" - rather than pray with specifics. Fortunate is the person who has a prayer warrior praying for him each day. I have been very fortunate to have three in my life. My grandfather, N. H. Wolf, prayed for me daily. He would welcome our requests and daily He took them to the Lord for us. For almost 25 years we traveled on Sunday mornings to churches as part of our family ministry. Only once did we get lost on our early morning travels and that one time was the Sunday after Grandpa was taken home. We suddenly realized that he wasn't praying for us that morning. Prayer makes a difference. My second prayer warrior was my father-in-law, Glenn Bickle. Every morning he started the day with the Lord and he always prayed specifically for our requests. When he became ill in December he apologized that he couldn't always pray as he had done before. We miss his prayers. Then there was my dad, my third prayer warrior. Daily dad prayed for me, throughout my life. A favorite time for him was at night when he would get awake and couldn't sleep. Dad is now home with the Lord. All three are gone. Now I feel very vulnerable since I don't know if there are any prayer warriors really intercessing for me. It is a difficult and troubling feeling. I was very fortunate. Who will pick up the slack? Yesterday I promised to pick up the loss for my extended family. They, too, will miss dad's daily prayers and they need prayer coverage. The battle is raging and warriors are needed. We all need prayer warriors, not pretenders who make glib promises that they can't or don't keep. Will you stand in the gap?
This blog has been very "quiet" for a week. I have been grappling with funeral plans, other responsibilities, and the beginning of the lengthy process of settling an estate. After tomorrow's memorial service for dad, my efforts will focus on the estate, a process I never wanted to face. But God has been so good. The last three months have been very challenging, to say the least. The illnesses and passing of both of our fathers and a host of other responsibilities and problems have sapped our energy. During that time I had three specific prayer requests for myself. I prayed daily for strength, wisdom, and peace. Even though I haven't slept much at nights during these months, the Lord has given me special strength and relief from many of the physical problems I have encountered in recent years. A year ago I'm not sure I could have handled all of this. PTL! And I believe that he gave me wisdom as I had to handle many challenging decisions about our fathers, arrangements, Awana, and other pressing situations. PTL! However, I can't really say that He gave me peace through these challenges. That is, not until Friday morning, February 6, when I found my father. You may think I am terrible, but I just can't describe the relief and peace that came to me when I knew He was safely home with His Father and would not face more suffering here. That is what he really wanted. People didn't realize how ill he really was because He just kept on going on, without ever complaining. But those of us who saw him everyday knew what he wouldn't say. So God did answer my prayers. PTL! And there are so many other answers that we've seen these months, even in things like the weather. God is so good and His ways are perfect. My challenges are not over, there are still many ahead. But I know that He will provide, so I continue to ask him daily for strength, wisdom and peace as we move onward. What a great God we serve.
Few people are privileged to have a father who consistently modeled Godliness, integrity, faithfulness, and commitment to the Lord. I am one of the few. And after 91 years here on this earth, last Friday dad was ushered into his new home in heaven. There he now is rejoicing with his Lord, my mother, and a host of family and friends who proceeded him there. It would take volumes to express the lessons that I have learned from dad. The early years of our lives were spent in the post World War II era when jobs and money were scare. We moved almost every year of my life until I was in third grade when dad finally found a permanent job with RCA. Dad couldn't afford a car until I was eight years old, even though we had made seven moves by that time. During those years I never really understood why he was always working several jobs, but now I realize how he sacrificed himself to provide for his family during those hard years. I learned much about working hard as I saw my dad's model. I learned how to live with little and how to handle money when it was hard to get. Probably the most important lesson I learned was that of faithfulness to the Lord, His house, and His service. We never missed a church service - morning, night or midweek, even when it meant traveling nearly an hour to get there. Church was a priority and I was regularly taken out of little league practices and games to go to church. And as far as faithfulness in service, his record is unbelievable. Some say he was the patriarch of our church. The historical society of our denomination named him one of the top seven key laymen in the history of the denomination. He modeled trust in the Lord in hard times. After 25 years at RCA he lost his job unexpectedly during downsizing. He never complained and in fact, afterwards he never went a day without a job as he trusted the Lord for employment. He modeled his faith in the Lord when he lost mother in an auto accident. He missed her so much, but he never blamed God. He went on living and serving God and trusting Him. He modeled devotion to God in many ways including reading his Bible through completely from the time he was eight until his death. This year he was using "The Message" for his reading. He was a faithful prayer warrior and prayed for and with his family. He loved his family and he was very special to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved him so much. His life touched so many people at church, in the denomination and in the community. Only heaven will show the extent of his influence. After he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in November, he never let folks know how ill he really was. And we couldn't stop him from keeping his busy schedule and going to church as he always had. In fact, even in the hours just before his death he was still doing the church and conference financial work. On Thursday we took him for his weekly trip to the specialist for more treatment. His blood counts had really dipped and he was scheduled for another transfusion on Friday. He was so exhausted, weak, and out of breath when we got home that I almost called the ambulance. But he wouldn't allow me to do that and he wouldn't allow me to stay with him overnight. We reluctantly went home and I didn't sleep at all that night. When we arrived at 7:30 in the morning to take him to the hospital, I sensed that something was wrong and before we even got out of the car I told Dianne that I thought he was gone. I was right and I found him on the floor in his bedroom. He was almost dressed when the Lord took him home - probably minutes before we arrived. He didn't want to be revived and I doubt that he could have at that point. But why would I have wanted to even try? He wanted to go home and the Lord took him. He was at peace - no more suffering. Oh yes, he had finished all the church checks and his reports for the conference Board of Directors meeting scheduled for that day. They were ready to go. His work was done and now he is reunited with mother. That was his desire for 15 years. So I can't even mourn. I owe him so much and I already miss him. A few minutes ago I thought I should call him to share with him some information I had heard - but then I realized .... But I would never wish him back. And I know that someday soon I will see him again. My heavenly Father has promised me that and He is even more faithful. So I say, thank you God for the privilege of having such a special man as my father. I am truly a blessed person!
I am not a businessman and if I were, I'd have a difficult time dealing with recession economics. But I have been watching two businesses at Park City which are going out of business and I just don't understand their procedures. The first is the calendar business in the mall. In November they opened two locations selling 2009 calendars at about $13 each. They had thousands to sell and must have done a good business. In January they began to drop their prices, first to $6 then to $4. About two weeks ago they combined calendars and kept just one location open. Since then they appeared to sell very few - a month of the new year is already gone. Yesterday they were still asking $4 and probably had at least a thousand left. Today they are closed - gone. Now what do you do with a thousand 2009 calendars? Why not sell them out at let's say $1 - you'd bring in a couple of hundred dollars rather than lose it all when you toss them. Maybe they plan to donate them to the homeless, or something. Then there is the toy store that has been going out of business for a month. They reduced most things to 60% - 80% off and had some great bargains. I bought quite a few things for our Awana store from them during this past month. But they have about 80 electronic Rubric's Cubes and I thought our Awana kids might be interested in them. They have been asking $8 for them since the sale began. Since they weren't selling I made an offer to buy 20 of them for Awana for $4 each. The sales person just laughed at me and said everybody would want them at that price. Really? So today, with two more days left in their closing sale, the approximately 80 cubes are still there at $8 each. And as far as I am concerned, they can stay there. I don't know what they will do with them - maybe they make more on a "write-off" than making an $80 sale. But then, like I said, I'm not a businessman, just a dumb consumer. I guess that is the way it is with recession economics.
Yesterday it was a penny for your thoughts and most of the things I shared were different and really not that important. But here is a thought that is much more powerful. After a restless night and facing the prospect of a potentially difficult week, I checked my e-mails early this morning. And there was an e-mail for me from a person that I never met who doesn't even know me or my circumstances. I think it might actually qualify as a "God-thing". So in case you also need this reminder today, here is the message. Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV) And with that precious reminder we go out to face the week.
This month we will celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. On his 100th birthday he was honored by having his face placed on the penny. Maybe it's good he isn't alive today to see how the penny is now treated. Few folks - except Dianne and I - even stoop down to pick one off the ground anymore. In fact many would like to take it out of circulation. I guess a penny is only really good for paying sales taxes anymore. Reader's Digest recently had an interesting quiz about the penny. See how you do: (1) A penny stays in circulation for how many years? A 30 B 50 C 10; (2) If you dropped a penny off the Empire State Building and it hit a passing pedestrian 1,454 feet below, it would kill him. True or False?; (3) What is the most a Lincoln penny ever sold for at an auction? A $221,950 B $373,750 C $1.3 million (4) In 2005, Edmond Knowles cashed in his world-collection of 1,308,459 pennies because ... A. He needed to pay for home repairs B. 4.5 tons of pennies might be considered a complete collection C. His wife told him it was time D. All of the above; (5) It costs the U.S. 1.2 cents to make a 1-cent penny. True or False? Now while you think about those questions, consider these sayings: pretty penny, a penny saved is a penny earned, penny pincher, penny wise and pound foolish, putting your two cents in, be penny-wise and pound-foolish, turn up like a bad penny. Can you add some more? Now the answers. (1) A, although two out of three pennies printed in the last 30 years have disappeared from circulation; (2) False, it might hurt, but there would be too much wind resistance to gather the necessary speed; (3) B; (4) D, he is considering collecting dimes; (5) True. So how did you make out? I guess I should say, a penny for your thoughts! But then I don't want to give mine away, I am collecting them.
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.