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, July 30, 2009

But There Are Others

There is no question that the last ten months have been very stressful ones for us. And often in times of stress and grief your vision can become slightly distorted. So this week we went back to Pinebrook, with no responsibilities for music this time, just hoping to get some rest and temporary relief from the stress. And the Lord allowed us to meet some interesting people. We came as a break from the stress of settling my dad's estate and trying to sell his house and then we met a brother from Bronx who told us how his aunt had died with a large home in New York and no will. He shared with us the resulting problems and the fighting between relatives over the estate. It made our challenge look mild. We came with the stress of trying to reopen and settle properly my wife's father's trust, after we had found that due to incorrect information provided to us, we have not properly handled several things since his death. Then we met a Bible teacher who shared that he unexpectedly had been the executor of a will where the money was to be split between 31 Christian organizations. The problem was that the deceased had written his own will and the percentages of distribution in the will totaled 110%! So they had to recalculate and reallocate these 31 gifts but before they could, all 31 organizations had to sign off to approve the changes. That also made our challenge look mild. We came still grieving over the deaths of our fathers and my brother. Then we met a pastor whose in-laws have been staying with them for several years because she has dementia and he must use a cart to get around. They require 24 hour care which means the pastor's wife must be home just about 24-7. She has not been able to attend Pinebrook for several years because of being a caregiver. That also made our recent experiences look mild and made us thankful for God's provision to us and our fathers during this difficult time. We also came to Pinebrook with the stress of having my right hand in a cast because of my thumb surgery. I am not able to drive or write or do many other things to care for myself and it has been a little discouraging and challenging. Then two days ago we were talking to a widow who reminded me that I should be thankful that my thumb could be repaired. She shared how her late husband's right thumb had been smashed at work by a 500 lb. object and how it had to be amputated. Wow, my temporary pain and discomfort certainly is mild in comparison. So once again this week we have had many reminders of God's grace and faithfulness to us. And while the stresses may still be there, we leave our week at Pinebrook realizing that things could be much worse and that for many they are much worse. God is still in control and He is good, all the time. We just need to keep our trust in Him for the strength, wisdom and peace that we need daily. As my grandfather used to say, "Keep looking up!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interesting Weddings

Over the years my wife has played for many, many weddings and she has had so many unique and funny experiences that we've often thought about writing a book about them. I thought of including some of them in my blog. but I feel concerned that I might embarrass some of the participants, such as those who fainted, those who forgot the rings, those who overslept and were late, those who didn't even show up, etc. But during the past 36 hours we've heard of some new and interesting wedding situations. In October a friend of ours is going to Greece to see her daughter married there. They couldn't set the wedding date until the mayor approved because that is a necessary step in getting married there. Another friend of ours will be headed to China in a few weeks to see her son marry a Chinese lady in a traditional Chinese ceremony. The mother has been required to pay a dowry for her son to be married to this young lady. Then we heard of a 56 year old man who has purchased a mail order bride from Shanghai. She is 36 and doesn't speak any English. He has a daughter who is 27 and he doesn't speak any Chinese. He visited her once in Shanghai and they communicated with hand signals and an interpreter. The wedding will be held in this country. But those three international weddings pale in comparison with the sad story we heard about a recent wedding. While the father of the bride was walking his daughter down the aisle he suddenly fell. When they tried to help him they suddenly realized that he had had a heart attack and was dead. After medics arrived the groom's mother also suffered a heart attack. We don't know if she died or not. The dazed wedding party was taken to the basement, and later, with everyone seated there on chairs, they decided to finish the wedding ceremony. What a sad start to their marriage. Sadly, that story tops all those strange and unexpected experiences that Dianne has had as organist/pianist at weddings. But, as we've learned, every wedding ceremony is unique and has its moments that are remembered for a long time. As much as I dislike going to weddings, I guess the promise of seeing one or more of those "unexpected experiences" gives me something to look forward to when I must attend. That probably is not the correct attitude, but I guess I am just being honest. Could that be a male thing?

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Repaired Thumb!

Unexpected Result

I had postponed my thumb surgery for over a year. I was expecting a simple procedure where I would be back to normal in about two weeks. But that wasn't to be. The surgery ended up requiring a metal plate, seven screws and a bone graft from my wrist to fuse the joint. For two weeks I tolerated the cast and then yesterday I went back to see the surgeon. I was pleased when they cut off the cast. I was glad when they took out the stitches and reported that it was healing well. I felt even better when they allowed me to walk for an x-ray without any brace on the hand. The doctor was pleased with the x-rays and then he sent me for a new cast. He first told me that I couldn't do any lifting or any writing. But I figured another week or two in a flexible splint was tolerable. Then we went to another room and the worker asked me what color I wanted my cast to be. I chose light blue. Then he began to wrap my arm and make a new cast - a hard one, almost as big as the first one. Then he sent me to check out and I was given an appointment for over four weeks from now. Four weeks! And I am right-handed and can't write for another four or more weeks! What a bummer! Not what I signed up for! But what can I do about it? Grin and bear it I guess and thank the Lord for all things, even when it is hard. But there is one plus. Last week at Pinebrook they allowed us to get into the dining hall early before all the other guests. And we have two more weeks at Pinebrook to take advantage of this. So I will be able to get my food first and then have more time to slop it all over myself as I try to eat with my left hand! And that is something to look forward to!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Do You See?

Have you heard this story? A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?" The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." Isn't it amazing how we are guilty of judging others? It is so easy to see the faults of others and not our own. The scripture warns us of that by reminding us that we often don't see the beam in our own eyes. Today I received an e-mail with accusations concerning some decisions I had made and those accusations really hurt me deeply. But as I took time to calm down and reflect, I realized that there were definite circumstances presently in the e-mail author's life which probably acted as "dirty windows" in observing and understanding my decisions. And what I need to do is handle the situation with love and understanding and make sure that my reactions and opinions aren't clouded by "dirty windows" in my life. Sometimes that is hard to do, but it is the way that Christ wants us to live and react. So let's be careful that we don't view others through "dirty windows" which might hide the truth.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Want To Feel Better?

Is your increasing weight getting you discouraged? Are you considering a new diet? Is advancing age getting you down? Are you concerned about your appearance? If these self-esteem issues are bothering you, then I have an easy solution for you. And this solution will only cost you about $20! Are you ready? Here it is. Take a trip to the Shady Maple smorgasbord near Blue Ball. Now for those who don't know about Shady Maple, just google it and you will find one of the world's largest smorgasbords. We venture there twice a year - once on my birthday and once on Dianne's. We do that because they offer a free meal on your birthday if you buy one. And the food really is good and varied, if you can eat that much without feeling bloated when you leave. Now here is the secret, just take some time to watch the people. You don't need to be a statistician to realize that most of the hundreds who pour through this establishment meet two requirements: (1) Most are over 70; (2) Most are over 275 lbs. and many are way over 275 lbs. I kid you not! And as a special bonus you will see these folks, especially the tourists, dressed in some of the strangest ways you've ever seen. And as you watch them fill their many plates you will realize that you really aren't that heavy and really don't look that bad, comparably speaking. And as you leave, your ego will be boosted even more as you observe the pair of 350 pounders dressed in their shorts and tank tops as they overflow two of the couches in the lobby. And you will feel good about yourself once again, at least until you finally stop burping your meal as you head home. Try it, it works.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Value Of A Thumb

We take so many little things for granted. Oh how I am being reminded of that this week. Do you ever think about how important your thumb is - especially your right thumb if you are right handed? I guess that I didn't, until a few days ago. Among other things, your thumb helps you hold your knife to cut things, especially food. It helps hold your fork to eat things. It steadies your pen when you do things like pay bills, or address mail, or even open mail for that matter. It steadies your razor when you shave and your toothbrush when you brush your teeth. Try putting on your socks and shoes without your thumb. Or try combing your hair or putting on stick deodorant or tightening your belt. Then there is the challenge of using your computer mouse - such fun. Open a bottle without gripping with your thumb. Well I could share more examples but it wouldn't serve any purpose. I am learning and trying to cope without the use of my thumb. Surgery was successful but it was worse than expected. It actually took a bone graft, a metal plate, and several screws to repair. I was expecting a much faster and easier recovery but that wasn't to be. But there is a lesson to be learned - the thumb, though it is very small, is integral to the proper functioning of the body. When it doesn't work, things don't function smoothly - as I am finding out. And so it is with our spiritual gifts. When some aren't being used in the body of Christ, the body doesn't function as it should. This should be a reminder to each of us to use the gifts we are given, no matter how small they may seem. All are vital. Well that is enough for a few days - at least I've been able to type with my fingers even though it is awkward and slow. Thumbs up!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Forced Vacation

I might be forced to take a vacation from writing blogs. How long? I have no idea. Over a year ago I developed pain in my right thumb. The doctor and I thought it was arthritis so he sent me to an orthopedic specialist who took an x-ray. When it came back and we looked at it, we all said "that doesn't look good!" The x-ray showed that the bones were completely separated and would require surgery. He gave me a shot to relieve the pain, giving me time to make a decision. Then more serious problems began to develop in our families and I had to delay surgery. Twice more I returned for shots and then I was informed that no more could be given to me. So, after the three deaths in our family, I've now decided it is time to have it done. So right now I am trying to fast and fight off coughing. In two hours I report in and if I pass the physical, surgery is to begin less than two hours later. They will fuse my thumb joint and do a bone graft. I am told that I might be in a cast for up to six weeks. And, unfortunately, it is my right hand. So how soon will I be able to write again? Keep checking here to see when more blogs appear - I have so few readers, I can't afford to lose more during this "forced vacation". I will appreciate your prayers. Hopefully, I'll see you here again soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Side Effects

Modern medicine has come a long way helping many people and even prolonging life. But we are still reminded that doctors are really "practicing physicians" and modern drugs can affect many folks in different ways. A number of years ago my wife was really having trouble walking and her doctors thought she might have lupus. When the perplexed specialist stepped out of the examining room, I picked up his medical book and began reading case studies. Suddenly I found a case involving 13 patients at the Mayo Clinic who had taken the same sulfur based drug that my wife had been taking and they had the same symptoms as my wife. When the doctor returned I showed it to him. He agreed, drug-induced lupus. He promptly took my wife off this drug and soon she was walking again without any symptoms. Over the years we have watched that she didn't take any sulfur drugs. Then a month or so ago she developed similar symptoms once again. She saw doctors and had tests. Then last week, upon getting a refill of a water pill she was taking, she noticed a comment on the label that warned it should not be taken by those allergic to sulfur. She stopped taking it and again the symptoms have begun to ease. After I retired I wrestled for many years with strange headaches, dizziness and then the devastating loss of my voice. I saw many, many doctors with no help. Then I went to the world's best voice doctor in Philadelphia. He made me go through over 50 tests - some very expensive - and he found nothing significant. He made me travel there for both voice and music therapy, with little help. I was frustrated and decided to just live with it. Then a year ago, while discussing some other medical concerns, it was decided to change my diabetes meds. I stopped taking avandamet which I had taken successfully for nearly ten years. Slowly, months later, I began to realize that the headaches and dizziness had begun to disappear and my voice was getting stronger. Now it appears that my problems might have been caused by this drug, even though the warnings don't talk about such side effects. In fact there has been so much improvement, that last Thursday night at Pinebrook I sang baritone in a male quartet. That was something I always loved to do but haven't been able to do for five or six years. So while modern drugs are amazing, the side effects can result in numerous new and troubling problems. The moral of these stories is that you need to closely monitor your own health for not only are doctors too busy to do it for you, but there is no way that they can keep up with all the new drugs and their side effects. Ask questions, read, keep records, request copies of test results, monitor your care closely, and ask for wisdom and guidance from the "Great Physician", our Father in heaven who knows all about us. Afterall, He has loaned us our body and it isn't the body of our "practicing physician". Have a good, healthy day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Very Special Event

It's one of those very special, memorable events - the July 3 Lititz parade which kicks off the town's big July 4 celebration. It's truly small town America where people stand as the flag passes by ... where folks applaud the members of the military as they pass by ... where patriotic songs are still played ... where folks still show their pride to be Americans. It reminds you of times, long gone in some areas of this country, where patriotism is still valued. By early afternoon on the day of the parade people have already reserved their spots along the parade route, using chairs and blankets. Family picnics can be seen in most neighborhoods while others walk through this very historical town with its special shops. There is a sense of anticipation like you might sense before a Penn State football game. Then thousands gather to watch bands and musical groups ... members of all branches of the military ... veterans ... scouts ... church groups ... buses with folks from area retirement homes ... fire trucks ... service groups ... majorettes and cheerleaders ... area business floats ... and a long line of Corvettes carrying the young ladies who will compete for the title of queen of this year's celebration. Many of those who are in the parade throw out candy to the kids who line the parade route with their bags to collect the goodies. The parade only lasts 45 - 60 minutes but it is a special hour for young and old alike. We especially enjoy watching with some of our grandkids and we are glad that they can experience this display of patriotism. Unfortunately for us, this might be the last parade that we get to enjoy there. Now that we are trying to sell dad's house, we no longer will have a handy place to park and to visit before and after the parade. Dad's house is located just a half block between two locations where the parade passes. It has been convenient for many years to visit him, park at his house, and then walk a short distance to see the parade. But times change. Hopefully the Lititz parade and its patriotic feelings will not change but continue for many years to come.