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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Special Results

If you look hard enough, you can always find some special blessings in times of difficulty.   This year my sister has had to transport and pick up her grandson as he attended afternoon kindergarten.  That has meant a daily roundtrip from Lancaster to Lititz and two hours of waiting for him until school is over.  But those two hours gave her a special chance to spend time each day with dad at his house.  These were special times that she wouldn't have normally had and she didn't realize then how soon dad would be taken home.  When dad began to have health problems in the fall I was often able to join them when we weren't running to Selinsgrove to take care of Dianne's dad.  I usually took dad for medical appointments and blood transfusions but my sister was able to share with some of this.  Even though Terry was not in good health, there were times that he also was able to visit.  Little did we know how soon these special times would end.  After dad's death in February we began to spend almost everyday together cleaning out his house.  I almost feel that I have been living there since that time.  Sometimes Terry was able to visit, although he was too weak to help and would often sit or lay down while we worked and talked. It was special just to have him there.  Sometimes we were also able to visit with him during our time in Lititz.  But as we now reflect upon the past few months we realize that in our times of sadness and concern, the Lord allowed us all to have many special times together that wouldn't have happened otherwise.  These are times and memories that we now cherish.  It is amazing how God can provide special blessings even in very difficult times ... during these times I also had a chance to once again appreciate the very special town of Lititz.  It is a unique community and I do miss living there.  And, on a lighter side, I rediscovered Root's Auction which is only open on Tuesdays.  My drive home each Tuesday took me past this unique auction with its hundreds of stands and many bargains.  I found the best subs I ever had and great bargains on fresh fruits and vegetables and plants. It is just relaxing to walk around and observe the sights and smells of this unusual Lancaster County jewel.   And, yesterday in the drizzle and cold weather, Dianne and I enjoyed hot french fries from Finks!   What a delicious break from the days of stress.  God is so good to us in so many unique ways, but sometimes we allow the clouds of problems to hide his goodness to us.   (P.S. - One of my readers also solved my Facebook problem that I shared on Monday. It's good to know that somebody does read my blog.  Thanks!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Wonder ...

There are some things I wonder about ...  Where have all the sparrows suddenly come from?  For the past year our birds seemed to have disappeared and then, suddenly, a few weeks ago, flocks of sparrows invaded our feeders.  Often we now have eight to ten feeding at one time.  And they are running up my bill as they gobble up my bird food.  They are more like pigs than birds!  ...   Why do banks and investment firms make it so hard to take out your money?  It has taken us months and dozens of forms and even gold medallion signatures to get trust funds released to pay bills.  And we have found that others have the same problems.  I guess they just don't want to give up their funds ...  Why do national and international leaders continue to give meaningless warnings to countries developing nuclear weapons?  It's like telling your kids not to do something, twenty times ... Why aren't there any good family programs on television anymore?  Won't folks watch shows that don't include sex, swearing, and violence? ...  Why do Bradford and Norman Rockwell collector plates no longer have any value?  You can't even give them away ... Why do we need more shopping center/plazas when large centers like Park City, whose owners happen to be bankrupt, have more and more empty stores? ... Now here is a big one - How do you take friends off your friends list on Facebook?  There used to be a page to do this but it appears that they've changed it and eliminated that choice.  So are you stuck with your friends forever or is there a way to quietly remove them if you change your mind? (Please help me out if you know the answer) ... so those are some of my weighty concerns on a slow Monday ... oh yes, I also wonder will Moyer last four innings for the Phillies tonight?  I feel for him.  Poor guy is learning what many of us have already learned, it's not easy getting old.  So stay young!  Hope you had a nice Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Very Special Breed

I remember it well.  It was October of 1967.  We received word from annual conference that John Dunn was assigned to be our new pastor in Lancaster.  Now I knew of John Dunn.  He was a short man with a deformed arm who had only served rather small churches.  I admit that I was disappointed.  But the Lord was really in the assignment despite my personal reaction.  John Dunn turned out to be a very special servant of the Lord.  He was not a great speaker in the pulpit, but he loved people and had a real heart for the ministry.  He was one of a special breed, a vanishing breed, of men who served the Lord faithfully even when times were tough and financial rewards very limited.  He knew how to work hard, how to visit, how to encourage, and how to help folks going through difficult trials.  His arm was no handicap.  He drove his car, he took care of the parsonage and he annually had a very large garden.  A few years his garden produced so many cantaloupes that he hosted the congregation after the Sunday night service for a cantaloupe party. He could also play a wicked game of ping pong.   In fact, after a few months if some visitor would comment about his arm, we had to think twice about what they were even talking about.  During his 12 years as pastor our church we grew and we expanded our facilities.  He was instrumental in establishing a bus ministry which reached hundreds of children.  He was a major influence in the lives of many, including me.   He encouraged me to take leadership roles and supported me as I did.  In 1979 he retired.  Then in 1980 we invited him back to be our Pastor of Visitation. And, he worked so well with our new, young pastor.  There was no competition or jealousy over the ministry of his replacement, as there have been in many similar situations with other men.  And with his love of the Lord, one would have not expected anything different.  In 1987 he retired again and this time he and his wife Dell moved to Florida where he was active in the ministry at the retirement center, Park of the Palms.   His wife was taken home to heaven a few years ago and on Wednesday, Pastor Dunn, was also called home.  He will be missed.  He was one of a vanishing breed of faithful servants of the Lord.  He was one of those very special people who was an influence in my spiritual life.  I thank the Lord for allowing him to be part of my life.  Now he is home with the Lord, and Dell, and my mother and dad, and my brother Terry, and Gary and Ralph and so many others who he served.  And he's heard the welcome, "Well done, good and faithful service!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Democratic Way

I am sitting in our voting precinct, trying to keep awake.  I am Judge of Elections and am responsible for making sure all the rules and government regulations are followed.  When we close tonight at 8 pm I will have absentee ballots to handle, dozens of forms to complete and envelopes lettered A to Z to stuff with forms.  That is in addition to running several tapes on the three machines and completing four final report forms.  Then we will pack up all the booths, machines, tables, signs and I will drive to Lancaster to turn in all the data.  I've been here since 6 this morning and will get home tonight about 10.  Usually I am swamped with work and the hours go quickly.  During the presidential election we processed over 2,000 voters.  But today is totally different and it is sad.  It is just about 4 pm and we have processed a grand total of 60 voters.  Did you get that?  In nine hours we have had only 60 voters.  Now I realize that there aren't any great contests and it is just a primary but it is sad for me to realize that less than 100 voters are interested enough to express their opinion in the selection of local officials.  And while we often get upset and critical about our leaders,  maybe we get what we deserve.  Wake up Americans - voting is a privilege in a democracy but also a responsibility.  Did you vote?  If not, why not?   Too busy?  Uninformed?   Uninterested?  Is there really a good reason for not doing so?    If I've "scuffed your shine, so be it!"   Well, I voted and I will do my job until we are done tonight because as a citizen of this country I feel it is my obligation and duty - a privilege many have died to preserve.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Psalm 16

In memory of my brother, Terry Kauffman.  Here is his favorite scripture.  Psalm 16, A psalm of David.  (1) Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.  (2) I said to the LORD, "You are my Master!  Every good thing I have comes from you." (3) The godly people in the land are my true heroes!  I take pleasure in them!  (4) Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.  I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.  (5) LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.  (6) The land you have given me is a pleasant land.  What a wonderful inheritance!  (7) I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.  (8) I know the LORD is always with me.  I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.  (9) No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.  (10) For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.  (11) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.   (New Living Translation) 

Monday, May 11, 2009

One More ...

My grandfather used to sing a song that said, "We are going down the valley one by one, with our faces toward the setting of the sun ..."  And the reality of this has certainly been in my mind recently.  During the past four years four of my closest friends have walked down the valley of death and been taken home to heaven.  First it was Norm Zellers, then Gary Varner, then Ralph Michel and now yesterday, my brother, Terry.   While I know that all four are in heaven, it is so hard to lose real life-long friends.  Their deaths were all so hard to take, but Terry's is the hardest.  It hurts.  We were always close.  We enjoyed being with each other. He was always so positive, even when he was suffering in his final days.   He had a strong Christian testimony and encouraged so many people.  He had wisdom and always had ways to solve problems.  He was always willing to help me.  I have so many memories ... sharing the mumps in Elizabethtown  ... enjoying our dog Frisky ... Christmas trips to Bethlehem ... walking to school with him up N. Queen St. in Lancaster ... stitches and broken bones ... playing baseball in the backyard ... trying to nail together a broken tree ... enjoying Cho-Chos in Sunbury ... waiting in line together to buy a television for nine cents ... camping at Mizpah Grove ... coaching his Teener baseball team ... getting pinned by him when we wrestled ... watching his football team win the league championship ... cheering him on as he wrestled in tournaments and in college  ... working together picking cherries ... laying down a squeeze bunt that scored him from third to win a church softball game ... taking our kids to Long's Park ... using his car to take a trip to Indiana when we were having trouble with our car ... working with him in Awana ... serving on the elder board together ... trips together, especially to Williamsburg  ...  going to a Penn State football game with him ... spending New Year's Day together at dad's ... Sunday lunches at  Wendys ... dealing together with mother's sudden death ... checking on dad at times when we couldn't find him ... and so much more.  Good memories are so important, but there is now a void in my heart that will never again be filled.   I do thank the Lord that he took him peacefully yesterday while we sang hymns around his bed in the hospital.  We were singing "When We All Get To Heaven" as he breathed his last breath here on earth and was ushered into the presence of the Lord.  And I hope that he had the chance upon his arrival to wish mother, "Happy Mother's Day!".  I thank the Lord for the 63 years that I had the chance to have him as my brother and I look forward to sharing again with him throughout eternity.  For it is true, we are going down the valley one by one. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Things I Wish That I Could Do

So often we take things for granted until we can no longer do them.  Then all we can do is wish.  Right now there are a number of things that I really wish I could do, especially tomorrow.  I wish I could call my mother and tell her what is happening in my life and see how things are going with her.  I wish I could send her some beautiful flowers.  I wish I could give her a special Mother's Day card.  I wish I could sit with her in church and then take her out for a nice meal.  I wish I could talk to her about her mother and learn more about my heritage.  I wish I could ask her to make me some of her special macaroni salad and apricot cake.  I wish that I could hug her and tell her how much I loved her. I wish that I could give her a kiss.  I wish that I could once more say "Happy Mother's Day!"   But I can't.  Those opportunities are gone forever.   Now instead I struggle with giving away her possessions and selling her house, and that is so hard.  And although she is much happier in heaven, living without pain, and reunited with dad, there is a void in my heart - especially at this time of the year.  And for the first time I realize that I am really now an orphan and now the elder in my family. I don't like that thought, but I can't change it.  Life changes so quickly.  So if you are still privileged to have a living mother, please do all the things that I now wish that I could still do.  You might now have the same opportunity a year from now.  Don't delay - do it now.  Don't live with regrets.  Have a Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Things Most Others Never See

Today we had to drive to New Holland and I was reminded of the many sights that we in Lancaster County take for granted.  We saw miles of beautiful farms and fertile land.   We saw clothes lines filled with clothing, most of which was purple and black.  We saw farmers plowing their fields with their mules.  We saw windmills.  We saw a young man driving on the side of the highway with his open buggy.  We saw a young lady riding her bicycle with a large cart attached to the back - probably headed to a store.  We saw several signs for home-made furniture.  We saw produce stands that will soon be filled with beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables.  We saw beautiful flowers.  But one of the most exciting things that we saw was a large group of men participating in a barn raising.  It was a relaxing and interesting drive.  And it was also a sad reminder of a special culture which is shrinking in the midst of a growing Lancaster County culture which is now marked by drugs and crime.  On the way home we drove through Lancaster City - what a sad contrast!   Lancaster County has been changing drastically, but if you look you can still find a beautiful, simpler lifestyle.  Not all change is good.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Dad's Car!

My father was a good driver, even though he was 91.  In fact, the day after he died he received a letter from the Department of Transportation saying that they would renew his license since his family doctor and eye doctor had approved.  But dad had a number of unfortunate situations where his cars would be bumped or dented, most of the times by others.  So his cars often had numerous small dents and sometimes he would even buy a new car rather than have them repaired.  He was always reluctant to let me know about the dents since he thought I might blame him and suggest that he give up driving.   Well, a few months before his death, he was called by his Toyota dealer and given an outstanding trade deal to upgrade to a 2009.  The plans now are that in a few weeks the car will be mine and we have been using it some to keep it in good running condition.  On Thursday we were parked in a plaza lot in the end spot of a row.   We were just getting into dad's car when we saw this elderly lady make a U-turn heading right towards us.  Unfortunately, she didn't have enough room to complete her illegal turn and I stood there and watched as she scraped dad's car.   She had seen a parking spot in a row behind us and was turning to head for it.  So the car wasn't even mine yet and it had its first dent.   She got her cards out for me and I noticed that she was still in drive.  I could just see her butting us again, so I suggested that she put it in park.  Her insurance company suggested that I get an estimate for what I thought was just a little scratch.  The estimate - $500 - and two days in the shop!  Today, on my way to get the estimate, I stopped at Turkey Hill for gas.  They have 8 rows with a total of 16 pumps and I was the only customer.  Because it was raining, I didn't pull to the front pump in my row because I would have been directly in the heavy rain.  I had just completed pumping when I saw this driver - another elderly woman - pull up beside me.  She was so close that I was sure she was going to scrape me, but, PTL she didn't.  Then I guess she decided that either she couldn't get out of her door because she was too close to me or that her tank was on the wrong side.  So she decided to pull over in front of me - 15 vacant pumps and she wanted the one in front of me, in the rain.  I watched with fear as she slowly cut in front of me, just missing the front bumper of dad's car by a few millimeters.  PTL, somehow she missed again.  So there is no question, it is dad's car and people, especially elderly women, are still trying to hit it.  So if you see me driving a silver Toyota, complete with dents, please don't think that it is time to take my license away from me.  We Kauffmans just can't help it - it must be the car.   Maybe I should pad it with rubber.