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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blessings in Challenges

It is just about a year now since our lives were changed by several challenges which the Lord allowed us to face. Now I will readily admit that the past year has been filled with much stress and weariness. But when we stand back and look at things, we realize that many folks are facing much more difficult challenges. My aunt had a stroke and she and my uncle have had to move to assisted living. Three other of my aunts are in nursing homes. Friends of ours are dealing with Parkinson's and another is probably in the final stage of cancer. Another friend has just been diagnosed with cancer and another is waiting for a biopsy. Several of our friends have recently become widows or widowers. And there are more. Now those are challenges that are much more difficult than ours. As we sit back and review the past year and our three family deaths, we see God's special leadings in our times of stress. We remember how the illnesses provided us with special times to spend with our fathers that we might not normally have had. And my dad's death provided more times than usual for us to spend with my brother before the Lord took him home. These final times together were special. The deaths of our fathers were both in the winter but happened at times when family and friends were able to attend the services. My father-in-law's funeral came during a break in some bad snowy weather that prevented us from actually getting to his grave site. But we were able to get within 50 yards of the grave because it was so close to the church parking lot. PTL, neither of our fathers suffered long, although Dianne's dad was in a nursing home for ten days. Both deaths came quickly with little suffering. My brother's death was preceded with much pain and discomfort, but God seemed to give him a special peace and comfort throughout it. Thankfully, my father was extremely organized and although it still took months to go through all the conference, church and personal records that he had, his organization made a probable very difficult job so much easier. Fortunately, Dianne's dad had downsized previously and since his wife received almost all of his possessions, we did not have all the problems of separating and disposing possessions that we've had with my father's house. And the very most important blessing is that all three are now in heaven. And that is where our fathers really wanted to be - with the Lord and with their wives. So while we've been stressed out at times, we realize how good the Lord has really been to us through this yearlong process. We've also learned a new empathy for those who must settle estates - we never realized how long and stressful this process is. We've learned more about the law than I ever wanted to know. We are still trying to straighten out some problems with Dianne's dad's estate, but we believe that the end of that process is nearing. Today my dad's house went on the market and if that is sold we will be able to at least see the end of the process of settling his trust. We are praying that even in this bad real estate market that the Lord has a buyer in the near future. Then we can think about moving on with life. So we take a deep breath and thank the Lord for his blessings and leading, even in this time of stress. God is good, all the time!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Few Updates

This has been a very busy week and I've not had time to add to my blog. But I thought I should share a few updates for those who have been praying. We've spent considerable time this week making arrangements to put my dad's house in Lititz on the market. We still have cleaning and other prep work to do, but it should be on the market in a few days. We've also had to hire some folks to do some work on the house to increase its appeal in this tight market. It has a very great location and is well built, but it will take many cosmetic changes on the inside. It has been harder than I ever thought to prepare to sell. The house has so many memories. Sometimes we laugh, and many times we cry. But we pray that a nice family needs a great house and purchases it very quickly. Then there is update on my surgery. The surgeon took the cast off on Wednesday, gave me a small brace to wear, and said that I should take it easy for four more weeks. I started therapy on Friday. I am able to write again, PTL! I am also able to take a shower again without holding my hand up and away from the spray. That is great. Now, I guess I can also shave. But, I haven't yet made a decision. Have you voted in my poll (found to the right on this page)? Please do so and help me out. One reader wanted to first see what I would look like as an Amish man or a Hillbilly. Above you can see what I might look like as a hill billy. My Amish things were in the wash. LOL Then the other interesting thing this week has been all the storms and rain that we've had this week. In fact the other night there was a tornado warning with the radar showing that the storm, with classic rotations, was passing over Millersville and right over where we live. So we headed to the basement and "enjoyed" the togetherness for about 15 minutes in our small bathroom there. We've had tornados before within a mile of our house so we don't take these warnings lightly. PTL, the storm passed over us and we had no damage except for one small limb that came down. It was one of those experiences where you know that you have absolutely no control over what is happening and all you can do is take precautions and trust the Lord. Well, that is a quick update for today. I have many more things to share but will do that next week as I find a few "spare" moments ... hopefully.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Should I Or Shouldn't I?

It began when I had surgery on July 7. I suddenly realized that there were many things I now couldn't do, such as write, drive, cut meat, and shave. So I left my beard grow. When I went back for my checkup I was surprised to get a hard cast so I still couldn't shave. When I went to my barber he offered to shave off my growing fuzz but I told him that my wife wanted me to let it grow. He suggested that I humor her for a few weeks and when I would come back for my next appointment he would shave it off. That sounded like a plan. But then I began to get by the fuzz stage and got through the expected embarrassment of going to church and even leading singing at Pinebrook. I began to notice how many other "old men" had beards and I no longer felt out of place. I even began to receive some complements. Actually this is not the first time that I had a beard. Back in the 1980's I had a full, but brown, beard. Some of my family members disliked it. I then reduced it to a mustache which I had when I won the Presidential Award and met the President. But it finally came off and I have shaved ever since that time ... until now. But now I will soon face another decision. I don't know when my cast will come off - it might be as soon as Wednesday or it might be a few more weeks. Then, when I can shave again, what do I do? Part of me wants to shave it off and part of me wants to keep it on. Maybe, with my growing white beard, I will be taken for Santa Claus in a few months. Maybe it will help keep me warm when the snow and wind and cold weather hit this winter. So what do I do? Help me out - vote on the poll on my public blog or add a comment or send me an e-mail. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Personal Favorite

I love good piano music. I wish that I could play, but like many others, I gave up taking lessons too soon and now I regret that. I've heard many professionals play and I have a few that I could listen to over and over again. But I have an amateur who is my favorite. I've worked with her for almost 50 years. Thousands of times over those years she has played while I have led music. Many times I've listened as she has played solos and offertories. But my favorite times are the private concerts that I get throughout the day as she practices or as she just sits and plays whatever comes to her mind. Now I admit that I am very prejudiced, but why shouldn't I be. God has given her a special gift. First, God has given her a special touch that is very soothing. He has given her the ability to play solos and also to accompany others, something that many musicians can't do. Even though she doesn't know all her chords and music theory, she has a special ability to add difficult and pleasing chords. A year ago when she accompanied a well-known trumpet soloist at Pinebrook, this world traveler remarked that he doesn't have a single accompanist who can add the beautiful chords that Dianne adds when she plays. God has also given her a special gift, the gift to play numbers without music and to transpose in her mind and play it in any key. Tell her what note it starts on and she can start there and play it in that key. A few times at the Sr. Saints Retreat, during a prelude, I have sat near her and randomly continued to suggest hymn titles to her. She would then play a brief interlude and go into that hymn without any music. Few people realize it when we do this, but it really is fun for the two of us. And she loves to spend time at the piano and that love shows in her music. Now, once again, I admit that I am very prejudiced and I know there are many outstanding amateur pianists around who have much more training than my wife - we have some in our church. However, last Sunday night she was forced to fill in with me when at the last minute we had to unexpectedly lead some hymns at Pinebrook since the pianist and song leader were delayed. She also did a brief prelude, without any music or practice. In the audience, waiting to do a piano concert later in the evening, was Don Wyrtzen, one of the most famous composers and pianists for years in Gospel music. He has traveled around the world giving concerts and is a professor of music. After his concert he came to Dianne and said how much he really enjoyed her playing. She thanked him and said that he was very kind. He promptly replied that he wasn't just being kind and that he was serious. He told her he would never make such a complement unless it was really deserved. And I believe he was sincere about that. He was also surprised to learn that she wasn't the full-time summer pianist at Pinebrook. So at least two professionals join me in recognizing that God has given her a special gift that she uses for Him. And I am blessed to benefit from this special gift almost daily. Now I know that she will be embarrassed when she reads this blog. But, I must say, thank you dear and thank you God.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strange Feelings

On Friday we went to my dad's house to continue to work on it to get ready to try and sell it. When we walked in I happened to notice that his kitchen clock had stopped. The battery had gone bad and it read 6:44. Slowly I began to realize that it was Friday and exactly six months ago, on a Friday morning, I found my dad in his bedroom at about 7 am. We believed that the Lord had called him home about 6:45, just before we arrived that morning. Now I need to tell you that this event gave me a strange feeling. When I told my sister a little later that morning, I said, not seriously, do you think dad is trying to tell us something. She quickly answered that maybe he was asking why we hadn't yet sold the house. She might be right. But that event seemed to set the day which was filled with feelings I hadn't had before. I guess the realization that we are now trying to sell the house brought a flood of memories throughout the day as we worked there. I was in the primary grades when we built the house and I remember it well. I can picture the many stages of the house being constructed. I remember falling from the first floor to the basement before the steps were built - we often joked about what effect the fall had on me. I remember how we had to pick up buckets of rocks from the fill which later became our yard. Oh how we hated that job. As I walked through the house, every room, from the attic to the cellar holds special memories of many good years growing up there. I recall the many traditions and the large family gatherings as our family expanded and the kids grew. For 58 years that house and my family have been part of my life. It will be harder than I ever realized to walk away from there for the last time. Part of me says sell it quickly so our life can get back to normal - it's all I can do to take care of one property but two is a stretch. But another part of me almost hopes it never sells. But being realistic, it is time to sell - quickly, I hope. Mother and dad and Terry are no longer there and it is time to get on with life. So I thank the Lord for a great heritage that does include a great warm home, in a special neighborhood, in a great town. Memories, memories, memories. But as I said, it is now time to move on, even if it is hard to do.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thumbing It

In the last few weeks I've been asked the same two questions many, many times. The first is, "Did you have carpal tunnel surgery?" They seems to be the popular surgery of this decade. Now I don't want to downplay that surgery, since all surgery is serious, but mine was much more involved than that and I now am into the fourth week with a cast, with many more weeks yet to go. The second question is, "How did you injure your thumb joint?" To that I am somewhat embarrassed to answer that I really don't know but it most have happened quite a while ago. Now I am deciding that maybe I need to have another answer, so I am considering saying that it is an old college injury. I injured it by doing too much "thumbing it" or hitchhiking. Yes, I did a considerable amount of hitchhiking back in the days when it was safe. I started early in high school when I traveled between Lititz and Allentown (Mizpah Grove). The biggest challenge was getting through Reading, but usually the destination signs I carried enabled me to get rides through there. Only once, on a trip back to Lititz ,did I get stuck and I reluctantly had to call home. I wasn't ready to walk through Reading with my suitcase. I did get to the bus station only to realize that there weren't any connections available to Lancaster. My dad did make the trip to pick me up, but he wasn't too happy with me. Most of my hitchhiking came during my first few years at college, between Selinsgrove and Lititz. The main problem there was getting through Harrisburg. Many times I had to walk across the bridge over the Susquehanna River, to Steelton – I guess I was in better shape then. I seldom had much difficulty getting rides. It was a different time then and businessmen readily picked up hikers. I met some very nice folks and had some interesting conversations. The only time I ever had a potential problem was when a truckload of folks who looked liked gypsies wanted to let me ride in the back of their truck with several of them. I politely told them that they weren't going far enough my way and refused their offer. Thank the Lord they accepted my decision. I still wonder why my parents allowed me to do this, but as I said, it was an accepted safer practice then. And maybe they were glad that I would get home so often. I often wonder how many miles my thumb secured my transportation. And maybe that is the secret to how my thumb became disjointed. Well at least it makes a better story than just saying that I don't know. Then, again, maybe it was just during one of those senior moments.