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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home With Lessons Learned

We're home - I think. I'm too tired to fully comprehend it. We've returned to the heat and humidity. Because of my failing to read the "fine print" when I booked our flights, Monday was a long day. The Residence Inn would only extend our check-out time one hour to 1 p.m. I had hoped for at least two and maybe three hours. So we had 6.5 hours to kill. We tried shopping. That was good for about 45 minutes. We then went to the Old Country Buffet where we were able to sit about two hours, mostly drinking coffee and reading. Then we decided to head to the airport. There I did some more reading and also completed several items for Awana on my computer. But after hours of waiting we learned that the incoming flight that we were waiting for would be almost an hour late and that would eat up all the connection time we had in Chicago. Since we were on the last round of flights of the day, we envisioned spending the night in the terminal in Chicago. However, the good news was that when we finally did arrive in Chicago, we still had about 15 minutes to make the connection. The bad news was that we had to run from the far end of terminal B, through the tunnel under the runway, and then to the far end of terminal C. There couldn't have been a longer route for two United flights. We arrived, out of breath, with minutes to spare only to find that plane was late coming in. So we had to sit and wait once again. We finally pulled in home about 1:30 in the morning, exhausted. However, there were two times that day when I did read the "fine print". The first came when I received the hotel bill. The first night we stayed there I didn't sleep most of the night because of the noise in the room above us. In the morning I complained and they found us another room in a quieter location. What they didn't tell me was that the new room would cost more. In reviewing the bill I discovered this and complained to the manager. Reluctantly they agreed to only charge us the original rate. So by reading it carefully I saved almost $100. The second situation came when I returned our rental car to Hertz. After accepting the bill I reviewed it and found out that they charged me for a week plus an extra day. We were quoted a weekly rate and we had the car 19 hours less than a full week. Maybe with Hertz a week is only five days (when they can get away with it). The clerk couldn't make a change but fortunately the manager was close by and he agreed to make it right. Here I saved about $50. This was the first, and probably the last time I will deal with Hertz. When we picked up the car last week we had to wait 35 minutes for it to be delivered. I thought that when you were "Number One" that your service would be top notch. Wrong. Maybe you try harder just when you are number two. So we are home having saved $150 by reading the "fine print". Well, not quite. My last surprise came when we left the long-term parking lot at Middletown. Their charges have increased since we last flew a few months ago and our bill for parking was $60. So $150 - $60 ... I guess I am still $90 ahead. As they say, easy come, easy go.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

AM or PM?

Is there really a difference between am and pm? I guess there must be. When we booked our tickets for our flights to Wisconsin I asked for early morning flights. And, unfortunately, I failed to read the "fine print". Going out was fine - we arrived here around noon. But this morning when I tried to print out our boarding passes for Monday morning, I was denied because I was too early to print them. Suddenly I realized that our flight was for 7:30 pm, not 7:30 am. Not that doesn't turn out to be too much of a problem except that we will have about seven hours to "waste" tomorrow after we must exit our hotel room. And while we have enjoyed Madison, we have seen about all there is to see here. Yesterday we visited the beautiful Olbrich Botanical Gardens and then, while getting lost in downtown Madison, we parked and visited the huge downtown county market and the capital building. The market was nice but ranks way behind Root's back home. And we really had no need for fresh vegetables or flowers. Fortunately, we were able to find our car again and get safely back to our hotel. Today we visited the zoo where the lions were not on display because they were breeding and most of the other animals were sleeping where they couldn't be seen. Why don't they train them to appear when visitors come to see them? Several of the exhibits were closed, but we did see some swans and goats. Wow! They also had a variety of animal statues that were painted in a variety of designs by area artists. At least the zoo was free. Then we tried to find Camp Randall, Wisconsin's home football stadium. After getting lost once again, we finally found it, but couldn't find a place to park or even take pictures - but we did see it. We also saw much of the Wisconsin campus which is a city campus, much different than Penn State. And after fighting more traffic, thousands of students, hundreds of folks on bikes, and numerous detours, we did find out way back to our hotel once again. Of course, we also made another stop at Culvers. I love that place - I wonder if we could sit there for six hours tomorrow. They also make the best ice cream. I cheated and had a medium vanilla shake yesterday. It is so thick that you can't use a straw. It is so good! The best vanilla I ever had. They have a special each day - today it was carmel fudge cookie dough. But I'll still take their vanilla. Well it's good my mistake was assuming it was am when it was pm. If I had made the opposite mistake, we would have missed our flight and it is a long walk home. However route 30 is only a few miles from us here and only a couple of miles from us back home. Ok, so my choices for tomorrow are six hours at Culvers (adding 10 lbs. and having blood sugar of 300) or waiting six hours in the Madison airport. Hmm, interesting decision.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Wisconsin!

Here we are, right in the midst of the home of the Wisconsin Badgers. I must admit that I don't have enough nerve to wear my Penn State garb. I had hoped to visit the campus and the football stadium and the bookstores, but the local television stations are advising folks to stay away this weekend. It appears that we hit the weekend when the students are returning and because they have many of the streets torn up for repair, they are predicting massive traffic jams around the campus. So I guess we'll visit elsewhere while we are here in Madison. However, some day I'd love to return to see a Penn State - Wisconsin football game. Now I must admit that we are really enjoying our second visit to Wisconsin. The last time we enjoyed Milwaukee and Green Bay. This time it has been Rhinelander and Madison. There are many things that I have enjoyed before about the University of Wisconsin - their band is outstanding. We have seen them perform at Penn State. And I have always loved "On Wisconsin". It is one of my favorite college songs. We often played it at football games when I was in band in high school. The people we have met here have been very friendly and courteous. They have tasty cheese curds that are best when they are squeaky. The roads here appear to be in much better shape than they are in Pennsylvania. And they tell me that humidity is seldom a problem here. That is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. The scenery, especially the mountains and lakes, is spectacular. But then Pennsylvania also has it share of beautiful scenery. But there is one thing that Wisconsin (and 16 other states) has that Pennsylvania doesn't - Culvers. Now if you've never had the special experience of eating at Culvers, you are missing a real treat. They are especially known for their ice cream treats (which I can't eat anymore). But they have a full menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and even dinners. It is run like a fast food place, but the food is of a much better quality, the prices are very reasonable, the service is outstanding, and the eating areas are attractive and clean. We have already eaten three meals in three different locations and have enjoyed all three. We will probably stop by a few more times before we leave. I don't know why they don't have any Culvers in Pennsylvania but I wish somebody would open one in Lancaster County. So you can probably tell that we are enjoying Wisconsin and we really are. In fact, we are considering moving here - no we really aren't. But if it were April Fool's Day, I would write a blog outlining our plans to move here. Some of you may recall that I did that a few years ago when we returned from Florida on April Fool's Day and I upset many folks with this fake announcement. So I won't try it again with Wisconsin, even though it would be a great choice if we were considering relocating. Anyway, even though we love Wisconsin, my cheer still is "We are ... Penn State!"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some Views From Rhinelander

Here are some pictures from Rhinelander. Two are from the Pioneer Museum and two are from the complex where my uncle and aunt now live. The apartment with the flowers is theirs. They have beautiful flowers and behind them are the tomato plants that Uncle John raises every year. The plants are loaded but aren't ripening too quickly this year. They used to be found in his garden but now they are in pots on his small patio.

Why Wisconsin?

Why are we here in northern Wisconsin? That's easy, we are here to visit my uncle and aunt who now live in a senior home in Rhinelander. My Aunt Ellen is my father's oldest of three sisters and she is the one with the same father (H.A. Kauffman) as my dad. My Aunt Ellen is also the one who led me to the Lord. She also helped spoil me when I was a youngster - and maybe even since that day. As a result, she has a very special place in my heart, as does Uncle John. Our families spent many times together as I was growing up. In fact we lived in the same house on N. Queen St. in Lancaster for several years when I was in elementary school. We visited them often when they moved to Connecticut, even after we were married. We continued to visit when they moved to the Pottstown area and they often came to our family programs when we were at the Old Mill Camp. Sixteen years ago they relocated to Three Lakes, Wisconsin, to be near their daughter, Nancy. We visited them here three years ago, but since then my aunt has had a stroke and other physical problems. They have now relocated to a very nice senior home where they live in their own apartment but have needed nursing care available. We have deeply enjoyed the few days we have had to visit them here and hate to think of leaving them to return home. We realize that because of the distance involved, the next time we see them might be in a better location, in heaven. They both continue to model to us a deep faith. They are prayer warriors, and like my father, my aunt has annually read through her Bible every year since she was a youngster. This year it appears that she is using the Message for her reading. I have had a special heritage and my uncle and aunt are a major part of that heritage. An added blessing of visiting here is spending some time with my cousin, Nancy, and her husband, Bill. For most of their married lives they have served on the staff of Wheaton College by managing HoneyRock Camp (honeyrockcamp.org) , deep in the woods, about 45 minutes from Rhinelander. It is a beautiful, large camp built on the banks of a large lake. Throughout the year Wheaton runs college credit classes there in conjunction with youth camps. Retreats and special Wheaton events are held there during the college year. Together Bill and Nancy minister to thousands of college students and young people annually. And they care so kindly for Nancy's parents. The love of the Lord shines through their lives and it is a real thrill to be with them. Nancy has been a real help and source of strength to me as we went through the difficult days during the passing of my father and Dianne's father. I pray that I may be able to be a similar help to her as she faces the challenging days ahead with her aging parents. We have marveled in the beauty of God's creation here in northern Wisconsin. But even more so, we have marveled in the beauty of the lives of family members here who reflect a sincere lifelong faith in the God of creation. Oh that my life would have even half the impact on others that they have had in mine. I have been blessed. And so in a few hours we will begin the journey home. Our farewells will be mixed with tears. But we depart with the full knowledge that we will meet again, if not here in Wisconsin, then certainly in our home which is being prepared for us in heaven. And that will be much more glorious even than beautiful Wisconsin.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Looking For The Hodags!

We are in the beautiful state of Wisconsin to visit my aunt and uncle and my cousin and her husband. They live in northern Wisconsin near Rhinelander and Three Lakes. My aunt (Dad's sister) and uncle are in their 90's and in a nursing home. My cousin and her husband manage Honeyrock Camp, the northern campus of Wheaton College. On Tuesday we flew from Harrisburg to Chicago to Madison. Our flights were great and, in fact, we were actually almost 40 minutes early into Chicago - that must be a record! When we got to Madison one of our fears came true - no luggage. However, about 30 minutes later it was discovered that our luggage had actually arrived before us. Because our plane was so early into Chicago, our luggage actually made an earlier flight to Madison and beat us there. It is interesting just to watch folks who are flying. On our first flight we were traveling with a large family who we think were Spanish. They carried on all of their own suitcases, probably to avoid the baggage costs. This pile of baggage blocked the line to check in while all of their passports were verified and boarding passes printed. Then they somehow beat us on the plane and actually had seats all around us. Their luggage filled all the overhead bins around us, forcing us and others to find other places for our carry-ons. The kids spent their time on the flight playing computer games. Their "crew" again blocked the aisle when passengers were trying to leave the plane. For us it was no problem because our flight was so early and we had more than adequate time to wait for our connecting flight. However the most interesting passengers were a couple near us, probably in their late 20's or early 30's. They spent the entire flight kissing - often "lip-locked" for five or ten minutes at a time. They did come up for air every once in awhile. I guess that is a great way to pass time on a long flight. Dianne thought it was funny. I thought he was lucky. There was also a very pregnant lady waiting for our flight (I guess she had been too "lucky" previously). She kept rubbing her belly and we just hoped that she wouldn't give birth on the flight. I don't think she did - I believe the baby that we heard crying was from another mother and her baby behind us. After a night in Madison, we spent several hours on Wednesday driving to Rhinelander. It was a long but beautiful ride. The first third reminded us of home with beautiful farms and fields of corn. The next third featured rolling hills with trees and beautiful lakes. Then we came to the last third which featured miles of forests and lakes - few homes or towns were seen. And then, in the middle of nowhere, we found Rhinelander. It is a beautiful old town, along a large lake, with a great shopping area, a modern hospital and even an airport - if you can afford the fares to fly there. We will share more of our experiences and reasons for our trip in future blogs. Oh yes, the nickname and town mascot is the Hodag. The Chamber of Commerce says it is an animal that feasts on lost golf balls. We also found that The Hodag is a folkloric animal of the American state of Wisconsin. Its history is focused mainly around the city of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, where it was said to have been discovered. In 1893 newspapers reported the discovery of a Hodag in Rhinelander. It had "the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end". The reports were instigated by Wisconsin timber cruiser and prankster Eugene Shepard, who rounded up a group of local people to capture the animal. The group reported that they needed to use dynamite to kill the beast. A photograph of the remains of the charred beast was released to the media. It was said to be the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor sharp claws on the earth. It became extinct after its main food source, all white bulldogs became scarce in the area. The Hodag became the official symbol of Rhinelander. It is the mascot of Rhinelander High School, and lends its name to numerous Rhinelander area businesses and organizations. A larger-than-life fiberglass sculpture of the Hodag, created by a local artist, resides on the grounds of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce. Can you tell which one of the figures in the picture is the Hodag? Well, I hope that you don't dream of this fierce creature tonight. I hope that I don't. I wonder what that noise is outside?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I believe that good traditions are so very important for families and we've tried to create and continue many traditions for our grandchildren. Of course there are the special things like Christmas Eve together, the annual DVD I prepare for each of their families, and especially the singing of our family prayer before each meal. This particular tradition has been passed down through several generations and we continue it whenever we eat together. It unites our hearts and minds in thanksgiving for what Christ has done for us. But birthdays are also a special time of tradition. We allow each grandchild to choose their menu for their birthday meal. That is interesting because we have had anything from pizza and subs to more traditional meals such as ham. Our latest, just today, was pot pie, and it was good. Until they reach the age of 13, we also prepare a unique birthday cake with a shape that is a surprise and is special for the one being honored. Today's, as shown in the picture, was a violin, complete with licorice strings. I designed it, Dianne baked it, and together we cut and iced it. I'm not sure how many we've made over the years, but these original cakes have included such things as piano keys, dolphin, horse, cat, castle, butterfly, Christmas tree, panda, teddy bear, reindeer, Christmas stocking, crown, football, ark, Sparky Award, snowman, french horn, Brian Westbrook's uniform, an angel, soccer ball, soccer field, rollercoaster, clown, baseball bat, Batman symbol, and many more. Maybe we should produce our own cake book. They take much time and work and creativity, but it is fun and worthwhile. A few times the kids have probably wondered what they were, but usually it is obvious and they appreciate the special attention. We do give up this special cake dea when they are 13 and give them just a "normal" cake. But they still let us know what type of cake and icing they want. Now my mother never really did this for us, but she did have a special cake that she made for us with fruit filling between the layers. Often it was strawberry or blueberry filling, but my favorite was apricot. That would taste so good right now ... but it is just a memory. A memory of good times when my mother shared her special love and talent with me. And that is the type of memory that we hope our grandkids will have as they age and even after we are gone. Good traditions can build good memories and special bonds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Your Name Is?

I will be beginning my ninth year of retirement and while I enjoyed all of my 39 years at Penn Manor, there are some things that make me glad that I retired. One of those, believe it or not, is names. I always had a difficult time learning the names of my students each semester. I dreaded that and hated when I had to nod or point because I couldn't recall the name. The last few years I even took pictures of them to help me memorize names. Now my wife is excellent with names. She learns them quickly and then remembers them. But not me. One of the reasons that I am glad that I no longer need to learn classes of names is that names have changed. No longer are there Bobs, or Johns, or Bills, or Marys, or Janes, etc. Many of the names are cultural and often hard to pronounce. And many of the others are even worse. It appears to me that the "in" thing today is to find a new name or a strange variation of a name to make your child's name unique. Because I may insult some readers, I won't give examples. But a child with an unusual name will often struggle through years of having teachers and others mispronouncing the name or forgetting it. Been there, done that. And it is embarrassing to both the teacher and the student when a name is messed up. After all, our name is one of the most important things that we have. We enjoy hearing it, especially when it is connected with something good. And it is so easy to mess up common names, let alone some of the modern ones. My wife has struggled most of her life with folks - even very close friends who've known her for years - who never spell her name correctly. Her name is Dianne not Diane. Her dad's name was Glenn, not Glen. My name is Barry and that isn't pronounced Berry or Barr. Anyway, I'm glad that I won't need to be struggling with many names of future generations. As I said, out names are important and I am so glad that I know one who knows my name and doesn't struggle with it. I love a recent praise song written by Tommy Walker. Think about these words. "I have a Maker, He formed my heart. Before even time began, my life was in his hands. He knows my name! He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call. I have a Father, He calls me His own. He'll never leave me, no matter where I go. He knows my name! He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call." And that I find incredible and comforting. So remember that as you face today's challenges ... now what is your name again?
P.S. - If you don't know the praise chorus "He Knows My Name", you can listen to it here. LISTEN

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Killer Invasion

After recently returning home from Pinebrook, we were walking around our yard when Dianne noticed what appeared to be numerous mounds of dirt or sand. As she kicked one with her foot, suddenly a huge bug flew out and began circling us. It appeared to be almost two inches long and it looked like some sort of wasp. When it finally landed on the grass, I quickly stepped on it and eventually killed it. We examined it and then Dianne went to her computer where an internet search showed that it was a cicada killer. We had never heard of such a thing before. We have been surrounded this year by cicadas and the noise has been almost deafening at times. We have since found out that the killers are actually wasps and don't usually attack or sting humans. But the females do use their sting to paralyze cicadas. The female wasp then straddles the paralyzed cicada and takes off toward her burrow carrying the cicada. As you could guess, this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. Our son Craig actually saw this happen recently. After putting the cicada in a nest cell, the female deposits an egg on the cicada and closes the cell with dirt. A burrow is 6 to 10 inches deep and about 1.5 inches wide. The burrows are made by the female who dislodges the soil with her jaws and pushes loose soil behind her as she backs out of the burrow using her hind legs. Her legs are equipped with special spines that help her push the dirt behind her. The excess soil pushed out of the burrow forms a mound with a trench through it at the burrow entrance. New nest cells are dug as necessary off the main burrow tunnel and a single burrow may eventually have 10 to 20 cells. So we are learning more about this incredible wasp. Unfortunately, as I've walked around our yard I've noticed more and more mounds and holes and I've seen more of the killers flying around. I don't mind if they want to kill the noisy cicadas, but I am concerned about what effect these burrows and grubs will have on our lawn. There apparently isn't too much that you can do about them so I guess we'll just need to see what happens. While we were at Pinebrook we shared our experience with other guests and while most had never heard of them, there were a few who have been invaded as well. And all of those have also had large cicada populations around them this year. It is awesome when you think of God's incredible creation and how he takes care of the balance in nature. Now I am wondering if I might have been a victim of one of these killers several weeks ago. After sitting outside at a softball game where my son saw the killer in action I discovered a bloody spot on my back. Later a large welt developed and I finally went to the doctor when it wasn't healing. He gave me something to put on it and said that it appeared to be some sort of bug bite. I still have a scar or mark about an inch long from the bite on my back. If it was a killer, fortunately it wasn't big enough to carry me away. Otherwise I might be buried in one of its burrows. So I guess there is at least one advantage to being heavy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Technology And Vacation

It is amazing how technology has changed even how we take our vacations. While we were back at Pinebrook this week I was observing how many folks, like me, were using technology. I wonder if something is wrong with us when we can't be without it, even on vacation. Probably not! Obviously, cell phones were everywhere. Ours was stationed in our room and we used it frequently to call to see if there were any messages on our answering system at home. We don't text, primarily because it is not part of our budget. However, it was obvious that many folks were texting regularly and playing games on their phones. Dozens had their laptops there and since Pinebrook upgraded its wireless this week, we were able to get online regularly, even from our room. I was often online to send out prayer chain e-mails, to check our mail, to read our daily newspaper, to check on how things were developing with the Penn State football team, to follow the Phillies games, to do research for my hymn blogs, to update my website, to check on the weather, and even to update my Facebook page. I used the wireless during the week to plan a trip to Wisconsin, booking our flights, reserving hotel rooms, and renting a car. Fortunately my laptop was available when I also discovered that all the fancy Powerpoint presentations that I had made for the services had to be redone. I had made them with a more recent version than they were using. It was a challenge to convert these, but, with the Lord's help, I was able to accomplish this. Then I was able to use these presentations, featuring beautiful background pictures, as I led the music throughout the week. Technology has even changed how we worship. My one negative experience with the technology came when my printer "expired". That meant I couldn't print out my daily colorful programs for the participants. Instead I was forced to use old fashioned technology - programs edited by hand and reproduced on the copy machine. But that setback didn't discourage me and I then used the internet to research and purchase a new printer. I didn't do it soon enough to have it here when we returned home today, but by tracking the delivery online, I know it is now in Indianapolis and it will be here on Monday. I have so much more to learn about today's technology, but it is so much fun, and the challenge of expanding my knowledge is something this "old guy" enjoys. But the question remains, should the technology be part of your vacation? I'm sure many of you have different view points. But it certainly was helpful to me this past week on a "working vacation" which I really enjoyed. Well, that's enough for now. After I add this to my blog, I need to go check my e-mail, search online for Penn State football tickets, order Awana supplies online, and reply to some messages on Facebook. Home or away, technology becomes an integral part of our lives.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let's Go To Spain!

Our economy is stumbling. Unemployment levels are up. Our leaders continue to spend money we don't have. Participation in food stamps has set records for 18 months straight. The oil spill has cost thousands of jobs. Citizens are struggling to pay their bills and keep their homes - which they can't even sell. Folks can't afford vacations. So what do you do if you are president? I guess you take advantage of your perks and let your wife and children take expensive vacations. You let her go to New York in March; Chicago, over Memorial Day; Los Angeles in June; Camp David in July; Maine in July, to highlight Acadia National Park; Spain, Florida, and Martha's Vineyard in August. Not too bad a life! Forget closer, less expensive trips like Mt. Vernon, Inner Harbor, Annapolis, the Chesapeake Bay, or even Ocean City. Let those for the poorer folks who must pay your way. And certainly, one should go to Spain and help their economy by spending multi-thousands there instead of in the United States And why not highlight the beauty of Spain's Mediterranean beaches when our Gulf Coast areas are impacted by the oil spill and their tourism is suffering badly. Of course, we are told, Mrs. Obama pays her personal costs, as do her friends who flew there on their own. But taxpayers pick up a big chunk of the tab. According to CBS News, the tax dollar part of the vacation includes an estimated $146,000 round trip cost for the United States Air Force 757 aircraft, not counting ground time; about $95,000 in hotel costs for an estimated 70 security (Secret Service and military) who get a $273 per day government per diem, plus costs for the dozen or so cars in her motorcade. Three shifts of agents are needed for a trip of this magnitude. As I recall, wasn't sacrifice a key theme in President Obama's inaugural address to the nation? Of course, the sacrifices were to be made by us. While most of us are now pinching pennies, the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice. It seems to me that the extravagance of Mama Obama's trip, compared to her husband's demonization of the rich, is just plain hypocrisy at its worst. The New York Daily News recently headlined, "Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation." Maybe this is just another "let them eat cake" moment.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Reflective Mood

The last few days I have found myself in a very reflective mood - not discouraged or depressed, just thoughtful. Maybe my mood was brought on by hearing of the death of another stalwart of the faith, Pastor Harvey Fritz. Over the past few years the Lord has taken home so many of His saints who have been my friends and who have been so influential in my life. I often wonder who will take their places in a time when we need godly men who will stand for the truth in a society that no longer knows truth. It has been with very mixed emotions that I have watched these saints called home. It helps knowing that they are now in a far better place and that they are with the Lord whom they loved and served during their days on earth. They would say, like Paul, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." But it is hard for us who remain. I view the difficult adjustments that their spouses are making and the loneliness which they must now battle. This is so hard. And I miss them, too. Many of them were close friends with whom I could freely discuss the many things that we had in common, as well as the challenges of life that we faced. We could encourage and pray for each other and that made facing each day so much easier. Such true friends are few and far between. They are a special gift from God. And when they are gone, there is a deep "hole" in our lives. I admit that I miss friends like Paul, Norman, Ralph and Gary. I really miss my brother. Even though we weren't often together in recent years, he was always there and he was always an encouragement to me - even when he was suffering. He was a special brother. And I miss my father-in-law. In our latter years we grew closer and he always had words of wisdom. He was a true prayer warrior. I still feel that we should just be able to call him, get up early, and drive to Selinsgrove to take him out for breakfast. But those times are gone. And of course, I really miss my dad. I do not wish him back for he is where he wanted to be. But so often I feel like picking up the phone to share with him things that are going on in my life. I miss our Friday nights when we took him our for supper. I miss our Sunday lunches when we gathered at Wendy's after our morning services. I wish now that I had spent more time with him - it is so hard to be alone, but he never complained, even when I should have called or visited more often. I live with that regret. In his quiet manner, he had a way of making everything seem better as he modeled his deep faith in the Lord. He could calm me down when I became excited about a situation and he was always willing to listen to me. So often we take these friendships and relationships for granted, until they are gone. Only then do we realize how much they meant to us. And as we lose those close to us who have helped us, we should pray that we can be a help to others who need a listening ear or a word of wisdom. But sometimes as you get older, the younger generations don't seek or want your help and that is also sad. So our daily prayer needs to be that we can be available when the Lord provides such opportunities. And as far as our own personal needs, the Lord has promised His Spirit to be with us to teach and guide and comfort. In the words of Jesus, "I will never leave thee or forsake thee." And we can count on that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Four Million Dollar Question

Now here is an interesting question for you to ponder. What could you do with four million dollars? Let's see ... Maybe you could send out 80 missionaries with full support for a year ... Maybe you could pay the annual heating oil costs for about 2,000 homes in the cold northeast ... Maybe you could pay off our church mortgage and build a sanctuary ... Maybe you could meet our church budget for the next 229 weeks or or 4.4 years ... Maybe you could support 16,700 Awana adopted clubs around the world ... Maybe you could provide care for 9,523 orphans for a year through World Vision ... Maybe you could even purchase 1,230,800 homeless people a Big Mac ... Maybe you could reduce property taxes or pay the yearly school tax for about 2000 home owners ... Maybe you could give 72,750 people a ticket to a Penn State football game ... Maybe you could pay a third of Brad Lidge's contract for next year to buy him out ... Maybe you could send 5,333 couples to Pinebrook for a week ... Maybe you could even build Pinebrook a new motel or two and name one "Generousbrook" and the other "Millionsbrook" ... Maybe you could fund numerous food banks or homeless shelters ... Maybe you could provide 1600 weatherproof homes for earthquake survivors in Haiti ... Maybe you could give Brownstown two million to fix the road that they can't afford to repair and still have two million for something else ... Maybe you could provide 200 needy students with a scholarship for a year of college ... Or maybe you could purchase 118,000 turkeys for the needy at Christmas or Easter ... Or, maybe you could just pay for your daughter's gala wedding ... that is, if your name is Clinton. I guess if you had more money than you knew what to do with, the choice would be yours.