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.
There are many things that affect our lives which are far beyond our control. One of those things is the weather. Now most of the time our thoughts are about "Is it going to rain?" or maybe "Is it going to snow?" Will the weather affect our plans? And if it rains, we just readjust or cancel our plans. But sometimes the weather is much more serious and there is nothing we can do about it. Major snowstorms can be devastating, especially when the power goes out and nobody can get out. I remember a few bad ones in my lifetime - one in 1958 that was the worst and another in 1996 when my granddaughter was born. I think they should have named her Storm. But I'm also thinking about floods, hurricanes, and tornados. I feel for the folks out west who run the risk of losing everything because of the massive flooding. My parents lived through terrible flooding in Sunbury decades ago. They had sad experiences of preparing, enduring, and cleaning up afterwards. Then there are devastating hurricanes. Fortunately there is some advance warning for these and you can evacuate or board up your belongings and hope that things are there afterwards. We have lived through a few hurricanes in this area and it is a helpless feeling. But I don't think there is anything as bad as facing a tornado. They come so quickly, are totally devastating, and are over so quickly. We have experienced several around us in Millersville in recent years. One came a couple of days after my knee surgery in 2000. And I felt so helpless because I was really unable to walk and move to the basement. Had it hit our house I would have flown away in my lazy-boy recliner. Another tornado unexpectedly hit the county on Sunday causing several million dollars in damage. We felt the rain, wind, and hail that surrounded it, but the devastation missed us. Unfortunately, my son's home, north of Lititz, sustained considerable damage from the large hail. But the weather is out of our control and it sometimes is very scary. These unwanted storms poses one of those unanswerable questions - "Why does God allow this to happen?" This question falls into the same category as "Why do good people suffer?" We'll never really know the answer to these questions, but we can know the One who has these things under His control. And while He may not take us away from these experiences, He will walk through them with us. He has said that He'd never leave us nor forsake us - and "never" includes times of storms and suffering. God is good - all the time.
The last two months have been a real struggle in trying to deal with my dad's estate and cleaning out a home with 60 years of possessions. But in doing so, I have learned things about my father that I never knew. It has been interesting and even shocking to see the things that he and I had in common. Now I knew the obvious ones. We both went to Susquehanna University and both majored in math and physics. We both taught in high school and college. We both served as Sunday School superintendent, elder, and Awana leader for many years. We both served on the boards of Berean Bible School/Pinebrook Jr. College. We both were charter members of our church. We both earned our Masters Degrees. But here are some additional things that I've just discovered. We both coached high school track and basketball. We both were editors of our high school yearbooks. We both wrote for the town newspapers, covering sports, while we were in high school. We both worked for the Sunbury Daily Item. We both led the Primary Department in Sunday School while we were in high school. We both were rather proficient on the computer and we were both self-taught. But there were also some significant differences. He was skilled in dealing with finances (as is my son, Craig) and many taxpayers and our church and denomination can testify to that. I can balance my checkbook,pay my bills, and do my taxes, but I struggle with the financial vocabulary and things like settling an estate. He was a very skilled engineer (as is my son, Ken) and he actually had several patents from his years at RCA. I started in an engineering program and received good grades, but just never had a natural feel for things in physical sciences. He was skilled in helping those who had employment and insurance questions (as is my son Tim) and we are just learning how many people he really advised and helped. As for me, I had to go to dad when I needed advice in these areas. He was skilled in building and repairing things. I either ask my sons for help or I hire somebody. So while we had many things in common, many of the skills I don't have just seemed to skip me and go to my boys. And that I find interesting. However, the greatest strength that dad had was his love of the Lord and his commitment to the Lord and His work. That was his life and goal. Dad set the standard high for those of us who follow him. It is my prayer that I, my sons, and my grandchildren may never forget the example which he set and that we may strive to live the godly life that he did. For me, the ultimate complement would be " like father, like son". And not just to be like my earthly father, as special as that would be, but more importantly to be like my Heavenly Father. That was dad's desire for himself, for his children, for his grandchildren and even for his great grandchildren.
It was Obamaism that caught the nation by storm last year. He promised change and people bought that line. And change he is providing. First came the liberal morality - killing embryos, expanding abortion, promoting same-sex marriage, and a host of radical changes that have stunned conservatives and evangelicals. Then it was the start of efforts to muzzle conservatives and those who support Biblical values. But now it is blatant socialism. As a reaction to the greed of the AIG executives, the democratic House of Representatives has passed legislation, which everyone appears to applaud, taxing the bonuses of banking executives at 90%. Not present or future earnings, but earnings from past years. The Senate will now consider this legislation and Obama will probably sign it. And you are probably saying good, that is what those greedy guys really deserve. But what you don't realize is that the government has now decided to arbitrarily tax, at huge rates, the back earnings of bankers throughout the nation. Most of them who will be hit and bankrupted with this are not the wealthy upper class, but middle class executives from your community who will probably need to return 90% of any bonuses earned in previous years - not future years, not this year, but in previous years. It is all part of the liberal view to distribute the wealth. Now you say that doesn't effect me, but it soon may. For example, Congress could suddenly decide to eliminate your deductions for past contributions to church or charity and tax them at 90%. What would you then do? Where would you come up with this money? And that is just one possibility. If Congress has the power to do this to one group they could do it to others. This is not only scary but it is socialism at its worst. Pray for the many Christians who will be devastated by this legislation. Pray for congressmen to stand against this injustice. Pray for our country and the path it has taken. Pray for the Lord's quick return.
Today and tomorrow are "tough" days for me. For thirty years I served as chief statistician for the PIAA state basketball play-offs at Hershey. It was always a challenging but exciting two days since I had eight games to work and the pressure at times was intense. But it was fun and I always looked forward to it. But three years ago they moved the games to State College and our table crew from Hershey was replaced by folks from Penn State. I still miss those two days - watching on TV is just not as much fun. But it is even harder this year since something is happening that I always wished would happen. One of the local teams, Lampeter-Strasburg, has made the finals - the culmination of a dream season. And what makes it harder is that their coach, Matt Wieand, is a good friend and is also a deacon in our church. He plays on our church softball team. His wife Katie has a beautiful trained voice and has been in many musical productions, including lead roles at the Fulton Theater. They are a great couple and they love and serve the Lord. I would have loved to be there working and watching Matt coach his team. Unfortunately, Matt will face a major challenge in the state finals. He is matched against the number one team in the state - a team that has only lost one game and has four girls who have received scholarships to play for major universities. This opponent, Archbishop Catholic, is from Philadelphia. This is the first time in the play-offs for them since the PIAA just opened the play-offs this year to the Philadelphia Catholic League. Unfortunately, the PIAA play-offs are now very skewed against the public schools. They are now controlled by the private schools, especially the Catholic schools. This year there are 16 teams competing for eight state titles. Nine of them are Catholic schools, two are private charter schools and only five are public schools. Three of these five are the large city public schools such as York. The Catholic and private schools have their choice of the top players - they claim they don't recruit but they draw from all over, while the public schools can only draw from their district. It just isn't fair and the public schools, like Lampeter-Strasburg, seldom get to the finals anymore and when they do get there they are often outclassed by the private schools. So Matt's team is a definite underdog tomorrow night. But no matter what happens, they've had a dream season that most public schools never experience. And who knows, maybe that dream season has one more miracle game to go. Matt and his team really deserve that for advancing to this point against all odds. Unfortunately, I won't be there to share the excitement - I wish this would have happened a few years earlier. But I will be watching on TV on PCN, at 6 pm, Saturday night. Go Matt, go!
Did you ever think about how the little things that you do can mean so much to others? We've been reminded of that recently in several ways. First, we were surprised at some of the folks who wrote comments about my dad and what he meant to them. Of special interest to us were some of those in church who have special needs and often are easily ignored by others. Several of them wrote to us about how dad always had time to come to them and greet them and talk to them. That was very special to them and they miss that. Such a little thing, but so important. This afternoon we attended a family visitation of a woman whose husband died suddenly this week. We didn't really know her although she has attended our church. We really went because her young daughter attends our Awana program. A few minutes ago we received a call from a friend of hers who thanked us for taking time to come to the visitation. We were told that it meant so much to the wife as well as to the woman who called us. Such a little thing, but so important. This morning we were at the Awana Sparks-a-rama and a young man came and thanked me for working in Awana. I admit that I didn't even remember him, but he came to our Awana program about 15 years ago and is now working in Awana at another church. Such a little thing, but so important. About a week ago we stopped at a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon for their buffet lunch. Our waitress appeared tired and really wasn't very personable. We were in a hurry and waited and waited for the bill (one of my pet peeves!). When it didn't come, we went to the register and told them that we had "lost" our waitress. She contacted the waitress who then brought our bill to the register. I admit that I was a little upset and decided not to give her a tip. The next day I felt very guilty about this, knowing that I had not been fair to her. Fortunately, Dianne saw her name tag so I wrote and sent her a cash tip. I also apologized for being inconsiderate. Today we received a very nice card from the waitress thanking us for our thoughtfulness. From her note I think that she might be a believer. She told us that her father recently died and that has been very hard for her. That explained so much and I am so glad that I did send her the tip. Such a little thing, but so important. Sometimes we forget that people are watching us and that so many are also hurting and a little bit of our time and thoughtfulness can go a long way in helping others. We who are believers need to walk worthy of His name and doing so is often so practical.
If you have been following the news in the Lancaster area you are aware of the horrible murder that took place in the Elizabethtown area. F our young men (probably not a good description of them) decided to choose a home outside of town to rob. They picked one at random, knocked on the door, and said they needed to borrow a cell phone to make a call since their car had broken down. A very respected older businessman answered the knock and kindly handed them a phone to help them out. The one young man then grabbed him and put a gun in his mouth. When the businessman resisted, he withdrew the gun and shot him in the chest and then again while the man screamed in pain and terror. Fortunately his wife locked the door and called the police or they might have murdered her, too. When they were caught and brought to trial they reported how they had laughed and celebrated. They reported how the killer had bragged about the murder and thought that he was a great gangster. During the trial and verdict he showed no remorse and just sat with a somber look. The jury quickly found him guilty of first degree murder. Then the circus began as they entered the sentencing phase - death or life imprisonment. All his family members came forth to testify how he had been abused as a child. His father, a pastor, had "beaten" him when he didn't want to go to church. He only had an IQ of 75 and didn't do well in school, so what more could you expect. He had never known love so this is why he became a murderer. It was all the fault of his family and environment and he couldn't be held responsible for that. And of course, when asked by his lawyer, how life would be if he received the death sentence, his entire family testified that their lives would never be the same. I wonder how they thin k the lives are of the wife, children, and friends of the man he so coldly murdered. Or don't the victims matter in today's liberal justice system. And during this part of the trial the murderer cried while his family defended him. Could he be playing on the sympathy of the jury? No, with an IQ of 75 he certainly couldn't be smart enough to play that game. Not if he didn't even know the difference between right and wrong. But isn't this the theme of today's society - it's not my fault, it's because of my lousy childhood and my parents. I just couldn't help myself. I was never loved. I didn't know what I was doing. Any many jurors will buy this argument. By the time you read this, the verdict will probably be public. I may be wrong, but I expect it will be life imprisonment instead of the death penalty And in this tough economy, we will have the "privilege" of supporting him with our taxes for 50 years or more. Sad, sad times we live in. Now didn't I see something like this predicted somewhere? It couldn't have been in the Bible ... something about the end times, maybe. Oh, but that's right, it's not politically correct to talk about the Bible and that old book certainly couldn't be relevant to today's society. Hmm, or could it be?
Many folks hate to admit that they are there. Others dread the time they will be there. Many prefer to ignore and overlook those who are there. Some joke about those who are there. Where? The senior years! But if one's health holds up, most everyone will someday be there and there are many advantages to being a senior. Here are a few: 1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you; 2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first; 3. No one expects you to run--anywhere; 4. People call at 9 pm and ask, did I wake you?; 5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac; 6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way; 7. Things you buy now won't wear out; 8. You can eat supper at 4 pm; 9. You get into heated arguments about pension plans; 10. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge; 11. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room; 12. You sing along with elevator music; 13. Your eyes won't get much worse; 14. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off; 15. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the National Weather Service; 16. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either; 17. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size. And of course, there are all the senior discounts. So you young guys out there - eat your heart out!
They say that there are two things that are certain in life - death and taxes. Death we probably can't avoid and it looks like we also can't avoid taxes even if we are dead. I'm learning the complexity of settling my first estate and it appears that death is not the least bit simple, especially for the executor. First there are the funeral expenses and now most funeral homes will only sell packages and you pay for all the "extras" even if you don't want them or need them or even use them. Anybody want a huge picture of my dad? That means a funeral is now big bucks - even down to the many required death certificates which are now $6 each or $10 if more are needed. Then there is the fun of canceling accounts, credit cards, home services, and subscriptions as well as analyzing medical bills and paying other bills. All sorts of groups must be notified - social security, pension funds, doctors and financial institutions. The estate may need probated and it must be advertised in multiple publications. Then there is the filing of federal, state, and local taxes for the previous year or in my case for the previous year and the present year. And we haven't even talked about death taxes, estate taxes, or inheritance taxes, or assessors that must be hired and scheduled. And down the road there is the disposing of household goods, a car, and eventually the house and property. This needs to be done while trying to be fair to the whole family. This process certainly is not for the feint of heart. It is certainly too complex for a person like me with only a master's degree. Would a doctorate have helped? Maybe it's the plague of being the oldest son - something like what happened in Egypt with the final plague. But that ended in death, although settling the departed son's estate was probably much simpler then. I'm worried that I'll make some legal blunder and end up owing more than the estate is worth or else be thrown in jail for 20 years or more. But while I am overwhelmed, I'm not really complaining. At least I am retired and have nothing else to do with my life - lol! But all of this just mirrors the complexity of the times that we live in. Nothing is simple anymore, especially death and taxes. Everyone needs to get their share, or actually more than their share. The solution - pray that the rapture takes place very soon. And if that doesn't work, then the best you can do is hire lawyers and financial experts to help you through the process and share with them whatever inheritance might happen to be left over. Anyway, they tell me it usually takes a year to settle an estate, so I guess I'll see you again sometime in 2010 - unless the rapture happens first!
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.