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.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ring, Ring, Ring!

Guess who talked to us this week? Would you believe Tom Ridge? What about Pat Boone? Or how about Sarah Palin? Yes we've gotten telephone calls from all of them and we will probably receive more from "famous" people before Tuesday. We must suddenly have become famous or popular! Not! Thousands of others received the same calls - recorded calls. And we've gotten too many others as well. But we're not sure who they were since we hung up on them as well. I'm tired of these annoying calls but they will soon end ... until the next election. The calls are almost as annoying as the nasty, negative television advertisements which continue to run ... over and over and over again. They are sickening and demonstrate how nasty our society and politics have become. I've been looking for one candidate who would only run positive ads, promoting just what he or she stands for. I thought that I found one, but then today I saw him revert to a negative ad tearing down his opponent who has been doing the same thing to him. Are there any good people left to run for office? Are there any who are not out for personal gain or fame? Are there any that you can trust? Are there any who are willing to run a clean positive campaign. Unfortunately, I think not. No wonder our once great country is in such bad shape. And then there is incompetence even at the lower levels. In our school district one of the political parties just sent out a brochure to all party registered voters telling them who to vote for and where to vote. For the district where I am Judge of Elections, they incorrectly listed a polling place that hasn't been used in the past six elections. Where have the party leaders been? Didn't anyone proof read the material? So what will the confused voters do when they go to a location that is now a private business? What will happen is, when they find the correct location, they will come and take it out on me and my workers. Some voters are as nasty as the ads that they watch. What a sad state of affairs. Anyway, make sure that you vote. And do me a favor. Thank the poll workers in your precinct for their time and effort. it is a tough job and most work from 6 in the morning to about 10 at night for much less than minimum pay - and no tips. Thankfully this country still has good people who are willing to give of their time to participate in the democratic process - even though it has sunk to this nasty situation. Oh, I better go and answer the telephone - maybe it will be George Bush or Bill Clinton this time. And I don't want to miss the opportunity to also be nasty as I hang up on them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Welcome To The USA!

Last week we had the opportunity to visit Ellis Island as part of our retreat at Pinebrook. It was a very special experience that I would love to repeat. Our visit started at the restored Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, a beautiful building with an historic background. After passing through tight security like you do for air travel, we boarded a ferry for Ellis Island. Beginning in 1892, some 12 million immigrants, mostly from Europe, passed through this facility on their way to the United States. The one day record was 11,747 processed in April of 1907. The experiences of the immigrants were fascinating. One of their first tests in their processing was to climb the stairs to the registry room. While they climbed they were watched by doctors who picked out this who limped, those who were out of breath, and those who didn't act normally. Those picked out were processed separately by the medical staff. Some were approved, some were sent to the hospital on Elllis Island, and others were sent back to the land from which they came. Inspectors quizzed all the immigrants using a 29 question processing form. Those who received approval to enter the United States were then allowed to exchange money, buy provisions, and, if needed, purchase rail tickets. One to two percent were denied entry. This often meant that families were split up - maybe the husband could enter and the wife had to return to her home country. I just can't imagine that a family who had made this long trip would reach this point and find that one or two of them could not enter this promised land. It must have been heart breaking when that happened. About a third of those who were approved stayed in New York City. After the inspection process was transferred to U. S. consulates in the 1920's, only a small number of detained immigrants passed through Ellis Island until it completely closed in 1954. It was also used during World War II for Japanese, Italian and German aliens who were interned. The buildings then deteriorated until restoration began in the 1980's. Unfortunately, our time to visit there was very limited. We did get to go on a tour of the main building, but missed the movies, many of the museum rooms, and the grounds. It has a special place in our country's history and that is why I'd like to return and spend more time there. But the day wasn't over and we had to again board the ferry whose next stop was at the Statue of Liberty. While we didn't have time to get off there, we did sail around the island giving me the closest view I had ever had. That too was impressive. And as we sailed back to our starting point, we could view the skyline of Manhattan and see how it had changed as a result of 9-11. It was a spectacular sight and it was a great trip. As I reflect upon the day, I realize more than ever how much millions of immigrants went through to come to our country. Unlike today when they now sneak in, it was a long and difficult process to come to this special land. And these were the folks who helped make us a great nation. Despite all the problems we now have in this country, I thank the Lord for the United States and the freedoms that we have experienced here. I guess we'll see what this freedom really means to us on Tuesday by the turnout at the polls. I'll be there exercising my freedom to choose, without fear. Will you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Special For Seniors

We just returned from the annual Sr. Saints Retreat at Pinebrook. We think it is Pinebrook's best event and probably its biggest hidden secret. We just don't understand why more seniors don't take advantage of this special retreat. Maybe some just don't want to admit that they are seniors - whatever a senior really is - or maybe they just don't realize how much they can benefit from such a retreat. For four days we enjoyed the beauty of the fall colors in the Pocono Mountains. We enjoyed the fellowship of senior men, women and couples. We enjoyed a concert by the group Witness. We enjoyed a banquet and good food. We led worship and shared our "Grandma" and "Gramps" with the others. We enjoyed a bus trip to New York where we took a ferry to Ellis Island (I might talk about this special experience in a future blog.). Indoor swimming and side trips to various attractions were also available. But most of all, we enjoyed listening to two outstanding speakers who challenged us and encouraged us with practical lessons. All of us need times that we step away from the stress and pressures of life to rest and be challenged in our Christian living. Now while they have some very nice rooms available for this retreat, we chose to be in a room that was much more basic. But for three nights it was comfortable enough for us. We even had wireless available. And while it wasn't Marriott quality, it certainly was far less expensive than Marriott and for the program and fellowship that we experienced, it really was a bargain. In fact, to be fair to seniors on limited incomes, Pinebrook actually lowered its rate for this year and has promised not to increase it for next year. So, as usual, we had a great time and we are already looking forward to attending again next year. Now maybe you aren't a senior yet, but you certainly know some seniors. Do them a favor and encourage them to talk to us and consider attending next year. Once they do, they will want to return annually.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank You, Gloria

On Saturday we buried my wife's stepmother, Gloria. We really didn't mourn for her because she is now where she really wanted to be, home in heaven. After she fell and was taken to the hospital, she told the nurse that this was her day to go home, not back to her assisted living facility, but home to heaven. She was right, for several hours later her heart failed and she was home with Jesus. We thank the Lord for Gloria because she was a companion that Dianne's dad really needed after the death of Dianne's mother. He could not bear to be alone and he would often call and ask us to pray that he would die because he was so lonely. It was a relief to us when he found Gloria who provided the companionship which he desperately needed. We admit that we were surprised when they announced that they were getting married. We approved and supported them in this decision. Now as is often the case in many second marriages, there were often differences of opinions and challenges in this marriage. But both loved the Lord. They worshipped together, traveled together, went out to eat together, and visited with friends together. Dianne's father never lost his love for his first wife and thought of Gloria as the companion he needed. And through this second marriage he became much more patient, kind, considerate and caring. This was Gloria's third marriage and yet after Dianne's dad passed away, she never stopped grieving for him until the day she died. Whenever we were with her she would tell us how good he was to her, despite their occasional differences, and how much she missed him. And we know that she did. She was never happy after his death. And so we say "thank you" Gloria for helping dad through those difficult years and we know that you are now happy at home with the Lord.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stumbling In Darkness

My clock radio came on as it always does at 5 am. I looked at the clock but couldn't see the time. Something was wrong. Had the clock lights burned out. Then I noticed that I really couldn't see anything - no rays of light from the windows, no shadows. I was in pitch blackness, but the radio was playing. I was suddenly seized by fear. Had I gone blind? I decided to try to go to my bathroom, but in the darkness I was stumbling. I had trouble finding my way. I banged my foot on the night stand. I was disoriented and tried to feel the wall to find the bathroom door. Then I really began to fear. did I have a stroke? Finally I found the bathroom and I pulled up the blind. Fortunately, I was able to at least see some shadows and that provided some relief. I carefully felt my way back to my bed, crawled in, and rested in the darkness. Later, when Dianne woke up, she also wondered why the radio was playing but she couldn't see the clock. Then she told me how she was up a few hours earlier and how we had been through a violent lightening storm. Then my mind began to focus. I got up again and tried some lights. I found that our electricity was actually off and so was the electricity all over the neighborhood. That was why everything was pitch black. Then I also remembered that my radio had a back-up battery and that is why it was playing when the clock and all other electrical appliances were "dead". I thanked the Lord that nothing more serious had happened and I went back to bed. But my mind went to those who are physically blind. We know several folks with that condition and I began to realize how difficult their lives may be. Daily they live in darkness and can't enjoy the beauty of God's creation, especially the colors of fall. They stumble and often need help. That must be so hard. Lord, thank you for my physical sight which I just take for granted. But as I was in bed that morning I also thought of the millions who are spiritually blind in the darkness of sin. Many of them don't even comprehend their hopelessness and they stumble through life missing the beauty of a life in Christ. Most adjust to the darkness and don't know what they are really missing. And many are even satisfied with their situation and reject those who come with the gift of healing. When you grow up in spiritual darkness you may not know what spiritual light really is all about. Stumbling around in the darkness when the electricity goes off is one thing, but stumbling through spiritual darkness has eternal consequences. But, thankfully, I can say as the former blind man said when his physical sight was restored by Jesus, "Once I was blind, but now I can see!" Thank you Lord for my spiritual sight.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ups And Downs

I don't recall ever having a five day period that has been so exhausting with multiple highs and lows. It started on Thursday when we drove to Allentown so that Dianne could practice on the organ that she would use on Friday at the funeral service for our pastor's father, Pastor David E. Thomann. We were honored to be part of his services because he had been such a good friend and godly example. But we did so with very mixed emotions since we will miss him, while at the same time we know he is now where he desired to be, safe with the Lord. Friday morning I led the singing while Dianne played the organ for the service in Allentown. Then we battled the Friday traffic and drove back to Lancaster to do the same thing for his memorial service that evening. During this trip we learned that our son had received tickets for a private suite at the Penn State football game, and as tired as we were, we couldn't pass that up. So at 5:15 in the morning we left for Happy Valley. Fortunately I didn't have to drive and we had reserved parking just three rows from the stadium. It was a simply beautiful day and the leaves were turning. The private suite was beyond what I had ever expected - real luxury! The views of the surrounding area were spectacular from high above the stadium. We had large padded seats and more food than we needed. I took loads of pictures which I planned to share here with this blog. But it was another day of highs and lows. We learned how "the other half" lives - unbelievable! We also learned how lousy Penn State football has become. It was ugly! I think the only hope is for Joe to retire and for the entire staff to be replaced. But it probably won't happen soon. Sunday came and it appeared that we would finally have a chance to relax - and we did. We enjoyed watching the Phillies and the Eagles win. Finally something to cheer about. Then we received a telephone call telling us that Dianne's step-mother had died. We knew she wasn't well, but her death came as a surprise. But again, she is now safe at home with the Lord. Monday was spent trying to get things done for the Sr. Saints retreat that we will be involved in next week and also for the coming election when we serve as elected officers. Things were going well and so I thought I'd upload my pictures from Saturday to this blog. Then I found that my camera is gone - probably left at Penn State. Oh well, at least I have the memories of a spectacular day. So next comes another funeral, then the Sr. Saints Retreat, then the election, and then another hymn sing. Please don't ask me what I do with all the time that I have since I retired. Incidentally, my granddaughter did post some pictures from Saturday on her Facebook wall and I've "ripped off" a few which can be seen below. So I wonder what tomorrow holds. But I must nremember that the Lord gives us strength for today. Tomorrow will take care of itself, and God will be in control.

The Good And The Ugly

Some views of our spectacular trip to Happy Valley and our private suite.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Check Today's Date

I just noticed something that I find interesting. Do you see anything unusual about today's date? Now just humor me a little. Remember I am a retired math teacher. I think a date like today's will only happen twice more in this century. If you still don't see it, let me help you with a hint. It will happen again next year and once more the following year. Have it now? Still don't know? Then try writing out today's date. Certainly you see it now. Oh yes, by writing it out remember that as a math teacher I mean just using the numerals, not English. And, just use the last two digits of the year. Now you must see it ... 10/10/10. And it will happen again next year on 11/11/11 and once more on 12/12/12. Then that will be the last time it happens in my lifetime ... and in yours! Have a great 10/10/10!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And They Go Marching On ...

I remember two conversations I had recently with elderly men who told me how hard life became when all of your close friends died. And I guess that if we live long enough we are destined to face that same situation which they were facing. And it is a situation which we just don't think about when we are still fortunate to have close friends and mentors around. If you have a close friend and prayer partner you are very fortunate and you should nurture that special relationship. If you have somebody who has been a mentor to you, you are very fortunate and you should learn all that you can from that special relationship. During the past few years I number ten such men that I counted as close friends and mentors who have now graduated to glory. And I do miss all of them. Their graduation has left a hole in my life. Some were my age and together we shared problems and hopes and encouragement. We enjoyed similar things and spent great times together. They were special. Some were older and influenced me with their wisdom, their advice, their lives, and their concerns for me. They were great role models. Some were family members who guided me and encouraged me through life as part of my special heritage. All loved and served the Lord and today are rejoicing in His presence. How do you replace men like this in your life? The answer is that you can't, unless the Lord brings new friends and mentors into your life. Maybe as we age we should pray that the Lord allows us to be that friend or mentor to others. Unfortunately, today we don't value age, wisdom, and experience in our society and so it is hard to fill that need in the lives of others. But that need is still there, not only in our lives, but in the lives of a younger generation that needs the friendship and guidance of godly men. And so, as we say a "temporary" good-bye to Pastor David E. (Model T) Thomann this weekend, let's ask the Lord to raise up godly replacements for those He is calling home to their eternal reward. And as we face the loss of those special friendships and examples in our lives, may we ask the Lord to help us live lives that will please Him and will be an example to others. And let's not forget, even if we feel the pain and loneliness of the loss of these special relationships in our lives, the Lord is still there and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. And that we can depend on.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

For several weeks we went without rain. Lawns were brown, dust was everywhere. We really needed rain. Then it came. The local "expert" from Millersville, whose forecasts are usually very reliable, said that we might get up to 3 inches from this storm and that wouldn't be a problem. Then, Thursday morning, it began. Rain, rain, rain! We already had several inches when we got up. Twice that day I had to empty our rain gauge because it was close to overflowing. By evening we had registered slightly over 8 inches. By noon they were calling for flooding and schools began to dismiss early. Even Millersville University called off classes at 1 because there was flooding on their campus. They they announced a tornado watch for our area. We had a doctor's appointment and by the time we headed home, the water was already up to the edge of the roads near Park City. We headed home to work on water problems in our basement. The retention pond near us was filled to the brim. By evening the rain had slowed down but they were saying another major wave was yet to come. Fortunately for us, the worst of the second wave stayed east of us. But when we got up at 5 am to head for Pinebrook, our gauge showed that we had received slightly over 2 more inches overnight. That brought the total at our house to about 10.2 inches which matched the all-time mark for Lancaster County. However, the "experts" are saying we only received 8 inches. Whatever, it is still too much rain for that short period of time! Friday morning we headed to Pinebrook and drove into more rain. Before we left Lancaster County we did encounter closed roads and had to make one detour. But , thankfully, as we traveled, conditions were not nearly as bad as they were back home. When we returned we found sunny skies, cool temperatures, and winds that were drying things out. Fortunately, we did not lose our power so our sump pump was able to keep pumping away. However, I did encounter a problem with my pump which could have created more damage. Now I am not mechanically inclined, so I asked the Lord for help. Minutes later He directed me to an item that I could use as a temporary solution - and it worked. Sometimes we forget that the Lord is always there to help us with all the problems, big and small. God is so good - all the time. Incidentally, this morning our local "expert" said that we escaped much more serious damage because the ground was so dry and was able to absorb much more water than it normally would. So the Lord was in all those details as well. We complained about the dry conditions, but as it turned out they were for our good. Watching the rushing water and the raging creeks made me think of the hymn, "Jesus Lover of My Soul" and that is my choice for this week's hymn on my hymn blog. It will be available at http://barryshymns.blogspot.com/ for you to see on Sunday, October 3. Have a good day - keep dry - more "showers" are predicted for this coming week. At least it isn't snow ... yet!