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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Fertilize Or Not To Fertilize

To fertilize or not to fertilize, that is the question!  I just finished mowing my lawn - for the second time this week.  And it looks terrible because I didn't bag it.   Several years ago my lawn looked bad so I began an annual program of fertilization and lawn treatment.  The dandelions and clover disappeared and the grass became green, especially when it rained.  And it began to grow at an alarming rate - almost like the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk.  Grow, cut, grow, cut, grow, cut.  Then our garbage collector began to refuse lawn clippings unless you bought special tags.  So I stopped collecting the clippings and the result is clods of grass which look terrible when they dry and cover the lawn.  So what is one to do?  You pay to have it fertilized.  You spend half your life cutting.  Then you buy tags each week to get rid of the clippings.  All this time and expense just to have a nice looking lawn.  Something just doesn't seem right.  Maybe the days of just letting God take care of my lawn wasn't so bad.  In the spring we had pretty yellow flowers which turned to feathers.  Then it was full of little white flowers.   Then came the clods of crabgrass.  And finally in August it would turn brown. Soon the leaves would fall and cover it.  Now that is variety.  And since you didn't need to cut it every night you could sit back and "admire" it.  And with the money saved, you could afford gas to drive around and look at the lush lawns that others have invested in.   Hmmm.   So, to fertilize or not to fertilize, that is the question.  I will need to ponder that thought as I cut grass again tomorrow, and maybe the next day, and maybe the .....

Friday, April 24, 2009

No bread!

We are in Bedford today in preparation for going to Altoona in the morning to watch two of our grandchildren in the Word of Life Teens Involved competition.  When we travel we can never agree on where we want to go to eat.  But tonight we noticed a Subway right next to our hotel and both readily agreed that a sub would taste good.  So off to Subway we went.  But guess what?  Subway had no bread ... at 6 pm on a Friday night ... they had no bread!  So they couldn't make subs.  What else do they really sell but subs.  A Subway with no bread!  So we saw a Sheetz nearby and settled for subs there.  But as we left we decided that we really wanted a little more and guess what was next door?  A Wendys!  So we decided to go through the drive-in and order some fries.  There were two cars ahead of us but the one got tired of waiting and left the line.  We waited and waited behind the one who was ordering - we thought he must have been ordering everything on their menu. Finally it was our turn. After we were able to order two orders of expensive fries (they wouldn't accept my Wendy's senior discount card), we again pulled up behind the car in front of us to pay for the fries.  And again we waited and waited.  You see the driver, instead of just paying his bill, must have also been sharing his life's history which is probably what he was doing when placing his order.  All he had to do was pay his bill. Finally we followed him to the pick-up window where the very same thing was repeated.  And again we waited and waited.  Finally he pulled up and we could get our expensive fries.  Then he stopped again to look in the restaurant window, but this time we could pull around him and leave.  As I did I noticed his license plate - disabled veteran.  I told Dianne I was thankful that he had defended our freedom (including the right to choose Wendys) as a veteran but that he probably was disabled because he had taken one to the head.  So that was our exciting evening meal - Subway with no bread, Sheetz which failed to toast Dianne's sub, and slow fast food at Wendys.  Maybe I am the one who has taken one to the head!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

Just came back from the first softball game of the season ... as my body and mind thaw I'll just ramble on about a few observations ... best coffee deal is at McDonalds but only if you are a senior.  A senior decaf goes for 50 cents and it actually smells and tastes like coffee.  That has become my regular breakfast as I head to Lititz each day to work on dad's house ... A reader of my blog tells me that the Wendys in Maryland are even slower than in Pennsylvania.  That's hard to believe - not that they are slower, but that I have a reader, and one who actually responds to my blog ...  While visiting my brother in the hospital I saw two Amish women in the waiting room - talking on their cell phones.  Do you think their bishop knows about this or maybe he is using one, too?  ... This morning while walking at Park City I saw a Mennonite girl, probably in her 20's, dressed in her long dress and wearing a cap.  She was at a stand reading a brochure advertising a contest for potential models.  Was she going to apply, was she dreaming, or was she just interested in opportunities for young ladies? ... Today our doctor prescribed a new cough medicine for my wife.  Our copay for the bottle was "only" $39.80! That might be about $2.00 a swallow.  I'm glad it was a copay and not the full cost ... In the doctor's waiting room I watched the drug salespersons come in and shower the nurses with gifts.  One gave out piles of candy bars and snacks.  Maybe that is why our cough medicine copay was "only" $39.80 for a bottle.  Something just doesn't seem right! Maybe they should have at least given us a candy bar, too ...  I was encouraged to start a page on Facebook, so three weeks ago I did.  I am now convinced that it is for young folks or for folks who don't know what to do with their time.  I've entered about a dozen comments that I though were interesting topics and have yet to get a single response.  One person did wish me a happy birthday.  Maybe I need to use a picture of me when I was 30 instead of the current one I have posted.   Please excuse me Facebook participants, but I don't find most of the comments there too exciting - like "It's a nice day today", "I'm going out for supper tonight", "I can't wait for the weekend", or "I just played the - you name it - game".  Of course there are games to play and tests to take to analyze yourself, if you have nothing better to do with your time.  It looks like the real challenge might be to see how many friends you can collect - that must be a measure of how popular one is.  Oh well, I guess that is the way one socializes today.  I guess that's enough ramblings for one day - I need to go check my Facebook Wall and see if any of my few friends thinks the weather was cold today.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Slow Fast Food

Almost two decades ago our family started a tradition of  going to Wendy's for our noon lunch after the Sunday morning service.  It used to be a great time together that we looked forward to.  We were such regulars that they even sent flowers to us when my mother was killed years ago. But over the years things have changed.  My brother went to another church in a different area and stopped coming.  Some of the others stopped coming for a variety of reasons.  When our church moved we went to another Wendys closer to our present church.  My sister started going to our early service so her family stopped coming to our noon gathering.  So recently it was just my wife and I and my father and once in awhile my son's family. Dad kept coming even to the Sunday before he died. But now since dad died in February it is usually just Dianne and I. I guess we keep "the tradition" going.  Our one complaint about our new Wendys location is that their service is so slow.  In fact sometimes it is faster to go through the drive-in and carry our food into the restaurant.  That's slow fast food.  Two weeks ago, while reading the editorial section in the Sunday News, the editor, a former student of mine, commented about how they go to a fast food restaurant each Sunday.  And because the service is soooo slow (his words) one of their friends goes through the drive-up and then takes their food into the restaurant.  Now I knew that they also used to eat at our former location, Wendys on the Harrisburg Pike.  So I wrote to him and shared our experience.  I was surprised in his return e-mail when he told me that his wife is now pastor of a church so they've changed Wendys locations too.  In fact, the location he was talking about is the same one that we now go to.  Now that is an interesting coincidence.  And I guess it tells you something about the service at the Wendys we now frequent on Sundays.  Now we won't identify the location because we don't want the drive-up lines to get any longer or we will be there all afternoon.  Oh yes, fast food but very slow service. But we'll probably still be there each Sunday - they give a senior discount!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do You Know My Name?

It really upsets me when a former student comes up to me and asks, "Do you know my name?" or "Do you know who I am?"  Now those who do this to me have usually gained 100 pounds, are now bald, and have grown a beard and a mustache.  I probably also had them in a study hall 35 years ago.  Once in awhile I get lucky and remember them - usually because they did something unusual, like get in trouble.  Now come on, at my age I'm fortunate if I can even remember my own name.  But everyone wants to be remembered.  Everyone wants to think they are special.  And our name is very special to each of us.  And unfortunately I have always had trouble remembering names.  When I was teaching I had to really work on this.  My last few years when digital cameras were available, I used to take pictures of my students and keep them to help me memorize and remember names.  Maybe you don't have that problem and if that is the case, you are very fortunate.  It is embarrassing when you can't remember someone's name.  But fortunately our Father in Heaven knows and remembers our name.  One of the praise choruses that I enjoy shares that idea. With the challenges I have been facing recently, the words of this chorus have really been an encouragement to me.  "(1)  I have a maker, He formed my heart. Before even time began, My life was in his hand.   Chorus: He knows my name, He knows my every thought, He sees each tear that falls, And hears me when I call.   (2)  I have a Father, He calls me his own. He'll never leave me, No matter where I go.  Chorus: He knows my name, He knows my every thought, He sees each tear that falls, And hears me when I call."  So I apologize if I forget your name, but please be encouraged that God knows your name (even if you have gained 100 pounds and lost your hair) and He sees each of your tears, and He'll never leave you, no matter how tough the circumstances.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We've Come Along Way II

Yesterday I commented on how far we've come - backwards in my opinion - with the celebration of Good Friday.  Today I must continue the theme with another similar observation.   I don't ever remember as a kid going to an Easter Egg Hunt.  I guess they probably had them way back then, I don't know.  I don't think my parents would have objected to them since I know I had an Easter basket and there are pictures of me with the basket and candy.  I do remember that Mammy Wise (mother's mom) used to make such delicious candy eggs each year - that was a very special treat.  When our kids were growing up we took them to hunts - we were glad that they could get more free candy than we could afford to buy at that point in our married lives.  Recently churches have gotten into the Easter Egg Hunt business, and I have no objection to that, especially if a good Gospel message is part of the activity.  That has been a big outreach at our church and many kids and parents come and hear the Gospel before they race to collect eggs.   But yesterday my grandson Zachary and I passed a church in the Landisville area with a large sign in front of their church .... Easter Egg Hunt, 10:00 am ... on Sunday.  An Easter Egg Hunt on Easter morning?  Now somehow I think that is crossing the line.  Has the Easter Bunny taken place of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ?   Yes, I guess we've come a long way - backwards in my opinion.  Easter should be the greatest day on the schedule of each church and the day should be devoted only to the worship and celebration of that special event.  It is the event that should make Christianity different than any other religion - Jesus is alive!  It is the celebration of the One who conquered death so that we could have eternal life and one day reign with Him.  And the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs should not detract from that day of celebration.  Or am I just getting old?  I probably am, but I still feel that local church is wrong. I prefer to devote my time and worship tomorrow to my Great Savior.  Anyway, have a great Resurrection Day tomorrow.  He is risen! 

Friday, April 10, 2009

We've Come A Long Way!

Good Friday 2009 ... I have many fond memories of Good Fridays when I was a kid.  Now I hate to admit it but that was a half century ago.  Good Fridays were so different then.  All the stores closed from noon to 3 pm.  All churches had services during that time and the pews were filled.  Many businesses also had services for their employees who couldn't get to church during these hours.  My wife worked at the First National Bank in Sunbury and they always had a Christian minister come in to speak and lead a service for their employees, on company time.  I know that is hard for all you "young readers" to believe, but that is the way it was - before the days of politically correctness.  So, yes we've come a long way - unfortunately the wrong way!  Now you probably won't even hear anything about Good Friday today unless you read about it in the church advertisements.  And the kids don't even have Easter vacation anymore, it is now Spring Break.  And some folks still think we are a "Christian nation" -   Only in your dreams.  But they still can't take away our right to thank our Lord for His unspeakable gift, to remember the pain and humiliation that he bore for us, and to rejoice that he humbled himself and died for us so that we could be forgiven, redeemed, and united with Him.  Take time to worship and thank Him throughout the day.  Good Friday is a special day.  And remember, Sunday is a coming!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over For Another Year

Well, it is over for another year - April 6, that is.  I've checked the internet to see what significant things happened on April 6, 1941 and nothing very positive happened.  You see that was the day that Germany invaded Yugoslavia and Greece.  It was Palm Sunday and the Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade without mercy.  Phil Austin, an American comedian was born that day, but I never heard of him and you probably never did either.  Craig Wood, whoever he was, won the Eighth Golf Masters Championship shooting a 280 - wow!  Way to go Craig.  I guess the only positive memory of that day, at least to me and my parents, is that I was born.  My birth came in an old hospital in Sunbury which was later torn down.  I don't know if there was any significance to that or not.  And so, yesterday, people around the world celebrated the 68th anniversary of the invasions by Germany, Craig's victory, Phil's birth, or my birthday, or most likely nothing at all.  I had a great day - probably as memorable as most of my previous birthdays.  In the morning I traveled to York to sign papers for my dad's estate while Dianne had an appointment.  In the afternoon I picked up more of my dad's estate papers while Dianne had a doctor's appointment.   We did make our semi-annual trip to Shady Maple for my free meal.  There we ate too much once again and enjoyed watching the crowd.  I am convinced that 95% of the patrons were either very overweight or old or in many cases, both.  I fit both groupings.  Then we headed home where Dianne suddenly got violently sick, spending most of her night in a small room up the hall.  I thought we might be going to the ER and I worried about her through the night, enough that I didn't sleep.  But, thank the Lord, she is on the mend.  So life goes on and that "celebration" is over for another year.  I don't feel any younger or older, although right now I don't have enough time to even think about that. And at this time of life you no longer remember how you felt an hour ago anyway.  And so the count begins to number 69 and we take it one day at a time.  Now if I could only remember what day it will be tomorrow

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Fool's Day Jokes

I have always enjoyed trying to trick people on April Fool's Day.  When I taught math, every three or four years I would teach a "fake" lesson on April Fool's Day.  Experienced teachers realize that often their students only half engage their brains and accept whatever the teacher says.  There are also numerous common errors in math that students often make.  So I would take advantage of these things and teach "Looflirpa's Theorem".  Usually I was very successful and the next day I would ask them to spell the name backward.  It was always a challenge to me to pull this off.  Unfortunately, one year I was so successful that I even had a student try to use the false theorem on the final exam.  After retiring I moved to e-mail and the internet and annually have tried such a prank.  My best was an e-mail stating that we were suddenly selling our house and moving to Florida.  Unfortunately, we had some key leaders in church worried about how they'd replace us and we had other friends in tears.  Now tears weren't really my goal.  Another very successful one was about a virus that had been spreading through my e-mails - incidentally it was named the Looflirpa Virus.  I've also shared some new tax laws on church properties and a variety of other ideas over the years.  But each year it becomes harder because people expect it.  This year I used the line about the increased tax on chewing gum, breath mints, toothpaste, etc.  I didn't expect it would be very successful but the last time I checked, 88 folks had gone to my website to check for the "rebate".  Hmmm, I wonder why so many went there - maybe it was successful even though most folks don't want to admit that they were tricked ... again.  The few who responded to me had interesting comments.  My one son said that he refused to open any e-mails he received from me on April 1.  Several told me that they can't believe that I got them again.  One person told me that she had even contacted some of her family members then had to recontact them when she realized what it was.  But as I said, most of the 88+ folks have said nothing to me - maybe they think it was too childish or maybe they just don't want to admit that they got caught ... again.  What about you?  Life's just too short not to have a few good laughs once in awhile.  But, as I said, it gets harder to do this every year.  So maybe this will be the last time I try it ... but then ... maybe ... just be careful if you get an e-mail from me on April 1, 2010.   You never know, it might just be from Looflirpa! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chewing Gum, Toothpaste and Breath Mints

If you read Monday night's Lancaster New Era you probably saw the article about the federal tax on tobacco rising 62 cents per pack of cigarettes today.  If you are a smoker, this is a hefty tax.  The hope is that many smokers will be forced to give up this bad habit because of its rising cost.  Time will tell. What you probably didn't read is that a steep federal tax will also begin on Wednesday on some non-tobacco products.  Taxes of about 39 cents will be added to products like chewing gum, breath mints, toothpaste, mouth sprays, and mouth wash.   I don't know what the reasoning for this might be, except to raise more taxes to help with federal bailouts and deficits.  Now if you didn't hear about this it may already be too late for you to stock up on these products.  But some companies are offering rebate cards to help cover these increases. We doubt that you care about the tobacco increases but since we think many of you might be affected by the increases for the other products, we have put together some information for you about these rebates at   http://fbfawana.com/gum.html.  Please check it out.  We hope this information is helpful to you.  If it isn't of concern to you, please keep your bad breath away from me - just kidding - I guess.