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, March 27, 2010

Trust The Radar

A few days ago we flew home from a vacation trip (details to appear here in a few days). The flights were great – on time and without problems. Most of the time we were high above the clouds where the sun was shining brightly. But on the last leg of the flight we didn't go as high and for most of the trip we were flying right through the thick, gray clouds. Looking out the window it appeared that we were speeding through a thick fog. That was all that we could see. I imagine it must be difficult for the pilots to fly and not be able to see where they are headed. But because of the radar, they flew confidently and we rode feeling at ease knowing that the radar would bring us home. And it did. But I sat there thinking how much this experience illustrated our lives here on earth. So often we can't see where we are headed, especially when the problems and worries mount and we tend to feel overwhelmed. But we know that Jesus is our "radar". He guides us through those situations when we can't see what is ahead. And knowing this, we should be able to rest in Him, with confidence, knowing that He knows our ways and that He will bring us safely home. This morning we talked to a friend whose job will probably be eliminated in the near future. He doesn't know for sure, but He is trusting in the Lord to guide him through this uncertainty. He made the comment that He knows that the Lord knows what is ahead. He just wishes that the Lord would tell Him. How often we all feel that way. I know He holds my future, but it would be easier if He would tell me what it is. But maybe it is good that we don't know what tomorrow holds. We might be fearful. It is better to face today, in His strength, realizing that He will provide the wisdom, strength and peace that we need to face tomorrow – when tomorrow comes. I'm not preaching, I'm just talking to myself – the world's best worrier. But if you are listening in, maybe the message is for you, too. One of my favorite verses, Psalm 139:2 (KJV), "Thou compasseth my path, and my lying down, and art acquainteth with, ALL my ways." So, let's just follow the "radar".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Tomorrow

Last night we learned of the sudden death of a 24 year-old father whose parents attend our church. He leaves a wife and four children. I think that there are many difficult situations in this life that could happen to a person. The most difficult is probably the death of a spouse. The pain and loneliness of that separation is beyond description. But close behind is the death of one of your children, especially a sudden death. We don't know what tomorrow may hold for us. Death is inevitable. Our days are numbered and we should learn not to put off doing important things such as telling a loved one that we love them … or apologizing for something you have done … or visiting a parent or a loved one… or resolving a dispute with someone, especially a family member … or sharing the gospel with a co-worker … or giving a friend a hug or a complement … or thanking somebody who has done something for you. So often when a friend or loved one dies suddenly, we live with regrets … if only. Tonight I also found out that one of my aunts died. Even though she was in her 90's, her mind was clear. The last time we visited her she shared all sorts of interesting stories that I had never heard about my mother and her family. I was eager to go back and learn more and identify folks in photographs. So much of my mother's background was lost 17 years ago when my mother was killed in an auto accident. But I waited too long to return to visit Aunt Anna and now many family stories are lost forever. If only … Nobody like to talk about death, but unless the Lord returns, we will all face death. So first of all we need to be sure our lives are right with the Lord, that we have accepted His free gift of forgiveness and new life. But then, secondly, we should make sure our lives are right with our loved ones and our friends. When my mother was killed, we were so thankful that the night before her death we visited her, not even thinking it would be the last time we'd be with her on this earth. And so the death of my aunt and the death of this young father challenge me not to put off until tomorrow what can, or better yet, what should be done today. For tomorrow on this earth may never come.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Excuse Me, But ...

… I don't normally brag about my grandchildren. It bothers me to be with folks who are always bragging about how "bright" and "talented" their grandchildren are. It seems as though every grandparent thinks that they have the only "gifted" grandchildren. But after having taught thousands of such "apparently gifted" grandchildren for 39 years, I am fully aware that this isn't the case. So while I am very proud of all seven of mine, I seldom share that with anyone but them. But even so, every once in awhile there are situations that one must share (or brag about). For example - my oldest grandson, Zachary, just completed three nights playing lead guitar for the musical at another area high school. Last weekend he spent time as a member of a select Governor's Youth Council tagging bears that were hibernating in their mountain dens. He also qualified for the Word of Life Teens Involved regional competition at Altoona in April. So far he's been accepted by two universities, Susquehanna and Millersville … His sister, Taylor, also qualified for the Teens Involved regional competition in several divisions, including puppets, praise team, poetry and short stories. Last week she also won a position as a goalie on the Hempfield Junior High varsity soccer team. Hempfield has one of the top soccer programs in the state, so this is quite an accomplishment … Our second oldest, Joshua, a member of the Warwick High golf team, recently won first place in a competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He hopes someday to be an engineer, like his father … His younger brother, Noah, plays French horn in the Warwick Elementary School Band and he recently completed four years of work in Awana to earn his Timothy Award. I will have the honor of presenting this to him next Sunday in our second worship service … Our granddaughter, Chloe, recently won first place for her project and display in an elementary history fair in the Conestoga Valley School District. She and her sister, Lexie, were named Respectful and Responsible Students of the Month at their elementary school. Our other grandchild, Brodie, is still a little too young for such accomplishments. Now while I am proud of what they are doing, my greatest desire and prayer is that they continue to love and serve the Lord. I pray daily that they would develop a passion for growing closer to the Lord. I also pray that God would be preparing godly spouses for each of them so that they could serve the Lord together and possibly even rear great-grandchildren who love the Lord. Earthly accomplishments are nice, but laying up treasures in heaven are eternal accomplishments. So while some grandparents wish for their grandkids to become rich or famous, the goal of serving the Lord is one that lasts forever. And that is my prayer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Family Announcement

Mr. and Mrs. Barry Kauffman are proud to announce the "joining of the lives" of Grandma, of Millersville, and Dr. Foo-Ling-U, of China. In the future Dr. will just be called Gramps. Future appearances of Gramps are not dependent upon his learning English, because he actually "knows" English better than Chinese. Future public appearance depend upon his ability to "acquire" a voice. Grandma is next scheduled to appear in public on March 27 at the Easter Egg Hunt at Faith Bible Fellowship in Lancaster.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Very Tough Puzzle Completed

This one was tough. The pieces were all one inch wide and all the same shape! This wasn't really much fun but it was another challenge met. The next one is easier!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Financial Tunami

The Lancaster newspapers beat me to it. For three weeks I had intended to write a blog about the soon coming financial tsunami involving pension funds that will hit us all in Pennsylvania. But they beat me to the punch and even "stole" my title in their major articles on Thursday. When this tsunami hits, we teachers and retirees will take the blame as taxes skyrocket and school programs are gutted. The first misinformed letter to the editor, blaming us, was published last Saturday in the local newspaper. More will be on the way. And it isn't even our fault. It is very serious. It has been coming for years and politicians have passed the buck and done absolutely nothing to head it off. What is the problem? Our pension fund, guaranteed by the state constitution, has been drastically underfunded by the state and local school districts for several years and now it is facing billion dollar deficits. Where the districts contributed 12.7% yearly up to 2001, the state legislators allowed it to drop as low 1.09% to keep taxes down. This, with the economic downturn, allowed what was one of the most secure pension funds in the nation to suddenly be billions behind. If the rates had stayed the same, there would be no problem. In the meantime, the teacher's rate was increased and they continue to contribute 7.3% of their salaries each year to qualify. State legislators and boards have seen this debt skyrocketing and have ignored it, allowing future elected officials to face it. Our governor, for example, is doing nothing about it. His term will be over when the tsunami hits. It won't be his problem. The prediction is that the school district rate will need to jump to 21.41% over the next three years – that will be an average of $500 more per family in Lancaster County, including mine. The problem was even made worse in 2001 when the state legislature increased their pensions by 50% and to cover their actions, they added on an increase in the teacher's pension plan of 25% for new retirees. We teachers didn't even ask for this, but it was the only way the legislators could get their huge increase passed. These same legislators have unbelievable salaries, perks, and pension plans and many think the teachers have the same thing. While I admit that right now I have a good retirement salary, PTL, there are some things that the public doesn't realize. First, I receive no cost of living increases and probably never will. What I received when I retired in 2002 is the same as I will get 20 years from now, should I live that long. Incidentally, in February of 2002 I filled up my oil tank for $185. This February it cost me $515 for the same amount and my salary has not changed in that time. Second, the state legislators who created this problem have great health benefits for life. Retired teachers have none. We do get $100 per month if we purchase their recommended plan. But above that $100 it cost us $6,500 for health insurance last year and that insurance didn't even cover $7,510 of our medical expenses. And the cost of the insurance climbs each year when the pension stays the same. Now, I'm not complaining. I new this would happen when I retired but when the tsunami hits, we retired teachers will get the blame and will be publicly chastised by angry taxpayers. Those who caused the problem will escape because most of them are no longer in office and many of them are now enjoying their fat pensions with free health benefits. What will happen? Attempts will be made to cut our benefits, but they are guaranteed by state law. Taxes will need to go up, but that probably won't happen. Some of the candidates for governor have already pledged no tax increases – I love their promises, but they are really out of touch with what will hit during their term of office. What will probably need to happen is massive staff reductions, elimination of elective programs such as art and music, elimination of extra curricular activities such as bands and choirs, and introduction of "pay to participate" athletics. This will come because the public will never allow sports to be dropped or reduced. Schools will never be the same. And the other growing possibility is that school districts and eventually even the state will go bankrupt. And if you think that couldn't happen, just look at California. Times are bad and I believe the worst is yet to come. But thankfully there is one sure solution – the return of Jesus Christ. That will create a real tsunami for those left behind on this earth. And I believe, and hope, that this event will happen very soon. Keep looking up!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is Dad Smiling?

When we purchased the property for our new church it included an oval for riding horses and a large building that had once been a stables for the horses which were raised and trained there. The oval was where our new building was built. The stables was dirty and in bad shape, except for the walls and foundation. It was suggested that someday this would be a good place for a youth center. Many volunteers shared in gutting and cleaning up the inside. A new roof was put on to protect it. An architect was hired as was a former missionary who was to head up the construction. The big problem was how to finance this since over $500,000 would need to be raised. The congregation was encouraged to start when a number of businesses and a foundation made large donations for the youth center. Work was begun and a magnificent building emerged. The finished product contains a large meeting area with the very latest in sound and projection equipment, a kitchen and a large eating area which is even equipped with booths from a former local restaurant, a large classroom, a fully equipped game room, modern bathrooms, large storage areas for church and children's ministry supplies, and a huge garage for storing our vans and doing other maintenance work. Many churches would love to have such a building for their church building, not just a youth center. Because of what it was originally, it has officially been named the Stables Youth Center. It is now used for all youth events as well as receptions, parties, meetings, and all sorts of gatherings. It is beautiful, modern, and very functional. But there has been one major problem – finances. The campaign to raise money from businesses faltered and fell way short of its goal. As a result, the church had to take out a large note to pay for it and this placed a very heavy burden on the congregation with the already heavy mortgage for the new church. But my father had the vision and fully supported this project. His one desire was to see this note eliminated as quickly as possible so that the congregation could concentrate on reducing the mortgage. Presently we owe $1,846 each week on the church principal and $2,200 each week on the interest. So over $4,000 is needed each offering for the mortgage. The Stables note is in addition to this. Well, dad didn't live long enough to see his desire fulfilled – elimination of the note on the Stables. But when he died we tried to honor his desire by designating that all memorial gifts received would go to reducing the note on the Stables. There were numerous gifts received the first month after his death but several others have continued to come in during the past year, including three last Sunday. This brings the total of memorial gifts in dad's memory to $20,270 and this reduces the note on the Stables to less than $2,000! PTL! And, with either a few more memorial gifts before the end of the month, or with the next payment from the church budget, the note will finally be retired by the end of March. This is so exciting. Dad would be thrilled. The Lord has been so good and we are so thrilled that, even in death, the Lord has used my dad's life to provide another landmark in the history of our church. His influence continues to impact the ministry at Faith Bible Fellowship Church, in Lancaster, that he helped found in 1950. I wonder if dad knows about this new development and if he does, I am sure that he has a big smile on his face.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Family Unity, God's Plan

I recently received an unexpected comment on my public blog where I talked about our Awana experiences. The comment was from an Awana headquarters staff member who wanted additional information about the things I had shared. She found my blog because they use google alerts to find references on the internet about Awana. In talking to her later on the telephone, she was interested in the involvement of our family during the past 28 years of Awana. She is preparing material for the 60th anniversary of Awana and might do an article on our family and our Awana program. In doing some research I found that 16 Kauffmans/Grimms have served a total of 256 years in our Awana program. Eleven of our family members have been clubbers in the program. These facts reminded me again how good the Lord has been to our family and how much each one means to us. We are especially blessed that our three sons married wives who love and serve the Lord. We are blessed because they have made it a priority to raise our grandchildren in the things of the Lord. We are especially blessed because they live close by and worship with us. We are blessed because their love for the Lord unites us and we really enjoy being together. This reality has also hit home since during the last few months we have been surprised and saddened to learn of at least six families that we know that not only don't know such unity but also have deep family divisions. We have heard of friends where parents and children haven't talked in years. We have learned of grandparents who dare not visit their grandchildren. We have a widowed friend who lives a few blocks from us and she hasn't been allowed, for several years, to have any contact with her grandchildren who live just a few miles from here. The widow longs to just see her grandchildren or talk to her son and daughter-in-law. Life is so short and it is a sin to allow these divisions to continue, even for a day. The Bible is very clear in teaching that children are to honor their parents – even if the parents wrong them. It is not an option but a Biblical command, as is forgiveness. It is bad enough for such divisions to exist, but when spiritual commandments are ignored, there will be penalties to pay in both this life and in our future lives. I feel so sad about the price that family members will pay for not following God's commands. He is the one who instituted the family unit and His heart must break to see these deep divisions. But we should pray for these families and situations. We know of a pastor whose in-laws disowned he and his wife when they became Christians. For several decades they had no contact and the in-laws didn't even know their grandchildren. But people prayed for years. Later, when the pastor's wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the barriers were finally broken and reconciliation took place. But all those years were gone. Later when the wife died and the father-in-law died, the mother-in-law moved in with her son-in-law and today they take care of each other. That type of happy ending is rare but exciting. If you and your family live in unity, don't forget to thank the Lord for that. I do this every day because God has blessed us. If there are differences that divide, please don't let another day go by without forgiving and reconciling. Life is too short to live otherwise.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Puzzle Done

Another puzzle has been completed while the snow was falling and the wind howling. But yesterday the birds were singing and the air had a hint of spring. But March can still bring major snows, although I really doubt that we will get the 40 in. snowfall of the century on Sunday as some have predicted. Instead, tomorrow I'm making arrangements to have my riding mower serviced. Instead of shoveling snow, we will soon be mowing grass. So will we get any more puzzles done? We'll see.